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Openings are likely to vary by culture, with participants in different countries having different norms. For example, in one country it may be common to skip greetings and in another callers may ask for the identity of the answerer. This could be a result of things as simple as the reliability of the phone system or whether or not people have caller-ID. The familiarity of the participants may also affect the length of the opening sequence. One study found that relative strangers had longer openings, while close connections used greetings and how-are-you sequences but skipped other parts.

The conversation channel can also affect openings. If the channel makes clear who the participants are (with perhaps a linked profile), then the identification/recognition portion may be skipped.

The opening pattern above has been described for “normal” conversation. Institutional forms of talk can look different, where interviews, for example, tend to start with extended preliminary talk (Heritage 2002). This extended monologue may be more for third parties than the interactants themselves. Interviews often open with the host stating the state of affairs, sharing a headline, which sets the context for the following discussion. Interviews tend to skip greetings or how-are-you’s, though they do include identifications. Interviews are structured ahead of time for the benefit of a media audience, while conversation is dynamically created in the moment. Like interviews, sometimes bots start with an extended monologue, sharing legal disclaimers, disclosing capabilities, or other context-setting. If this context is for the user’s benefit, i.e. it provides relevant background info, it makes sense to include it. But be careful, since these preliminaries can add friction to actually starting the interaction.

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