How to Make Small Talk

what to talk about at holiday meals

Ever meet someone new and don’t know what to say?  Sometimes it’s the fact you just saw the person and nothing new has happened.  What do you talk about?

Here are some topics of conversation you might find helpful.  Fair warning: These questions can get people really talking, so be ready to listen, ask follow up questions, and enjoy connecting with those around you.

Ask About Hobby of Theirs

Most people like to share about a hobby and by asking about it you’re showing them you care about something that matters to them.

What are you currently working on?

What do you hope to do next?

What do you enjoy most about it?

Ask About Their Job

Use your best judgment here.  If you know they like their job, then asking about it is probably okay.  Some people don’t have a lot to say and others like to share.  Then there are those who would have a lot to say if you were a colleague, or in the same field.

What are you currently working on?

What do you hope to work on or accomplish next?

What do you think are current trends or observations you’ve noticed in your field?

What do you think are the biggest concerns/issues/challenges in your field?

What do you think is the most rewarding/interesting part of your job?

Anything surprising or exciting happen lately?

Comment on the Situation You Find Yourself In

Waiting in line, in the car, at a conference, all these are places there are opportunities to fill the silence.

Consider the context of the situation and comment.  This can start conversation or make a situation more relaxed and comfortable.

I remember when…

I hate it when…

I love the …

Have you ever…?

Would you recommend…?

Did you notice…?

I see/just saw…

I wonder…

Ask About Popular Culture

This can be a neutral point of conversation and a good place to start if you don’t know what else to say.

Have you seen or read _______________?

Read or watched any good books or movies lately?  Anything you would recommend?

What’s your opinion of ______________ in the news? (use your best judgment here about whether this is a contentious topic).

Ask Advice

Depending on who you’re with, you could ask advice.

What would you recommend for…?

Would you recommend ______________ for …?

What do you do when …?

So I can’t figure out…

I’m looking for …

I can’t find…

Conversation Starters as a Game to Connect with Your Family

There are even game versions of this topic here. This parenting blog gives tips on sparking conversation with your children with printable cards, which could also be a game.

May you have inspiring and interesting conversations with the people that come into your life.

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