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Silences are not a problem and speaking quietly is very common.
Once you have made a friend, a handshake upon meeting turns into holding hands for the duration of the conversation.
Try to avoid asking for specific details about the location of their village. Humour can be awkward so be careful how you use it and do not expect to be understood.
When you meet someone, try to remember their face and their name as you are bound to bump into someone from work at the supermarket or in the Mall in Gaborone.
This rule is similar for contact between men and women.
In the northern part of Botswana when greeting an elderly person you have to kneel down and give them both of your hands if you find them seated.
Make the effort to greet them using their name and you will gain lots of brownie points.
Many of the local blacks feel that the whites cannot distinguish amongst them and to walk by someone you know and not greet them is extremely rude. Ethnic background and place of residence are important factors in determining peoples’ level of comfort with touching and gestures.
Some ice breaking topics might include enquiring as to where they are from, if they are from a distant village, then you could ask whether they have any relatives close-by (wherever you are).
If they are well-educated, you can talk about almost anything, especially where they have been educated and where they have travelled.