Small talk. It should be an actual course in school, say, in Grade 5. Way before high school, at the very least. It’s not hard to make small talk with friends or co-workers you know fairly well, but get stuck in a room with strangers, and it’s tough! For our Friday Frivolous Post, we’re going there.
As Canadians, we seem to learn how to make small talk about the weather from day one. But what happens when you have more time to kill, or want to chat up that fascinating person across the room during a conference? You can’t rely on the other person to do all the talking–you need to learn how to have conversations, especially in this world of social media and cell phones.
But how? Do you memorize a list of general questions you could ask anyone? (What type of work do you do? Have you been on vacation this summer? What do you think of all this construction? Do you like this restaurant/hotel/yoga class?) After a while, you’ll lose someone with those run-of-the-mill questions. To really engage a stranger, you need to keep a conversation going. But it would be nice to also glean a few tidbits of interesting info from them as well.
When I came across this list of 16 Interesting, Better Small Talk Questions, it was something I had to share. Some of these are BRILLIANT, and I plan on using them the next time I’m lost for words.
How about something like:
- What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?
We ask this question casually at work all the time, just not in this particular way. When people ask us for book recommendations, we often ask them about the last great book they read, or what type of book they usually enjoy. Why can’t this be a “regular” conversation question? You might find your next favourite book or Netflix binge-worthy show.
- What are you doing this weekend?
Okay. This seems like a no-brainer, and we often go through this conversation with friends or family right before the weekend. But what if we did it with strangers? (I don’t recommend asking someone on the bus, or in line at the bank…seems a little weird.) I could totally see a conversation like this playing out with someone sitting beside you at the doctor’s office, or the cashier at the grocery store. Just an easy question, and it gets the other person talking about things THEY’RE excited about. Plus, you might get a great tip on something fun to do!
- What’s the best thing that happened to you today?
I feel like this one is for people you know a little bit already. Otherwise, it ends up sounding like one of those inspirational Facebook posts by a self-help author. (List the five best things that happened to you today! Wasn’t that an Oprah thing?) But with someone you know…an old friend, your kids, etc., and you could totally pull this off.
There are plenty of other great questions to ask, with lots of wiggle room and the obvious…segues into more conversation! Give them a try and let us know what you think? Or….do you have some favourite conversation starters that work well? Leave us a comment!