The art of small talk

The art of small talk

It’s come to my attention that on a daily basis, I am likely to spend more time with people that aren’t my family and friends and more time interacting with work colleagues and strangers on trains, at cafes or in elevators. I feel like this requires one to have a database of small talk conversation starters on the ready for situations where it seems necessary to talk about our general observations. Part way through building my personal database, it dawned on me that I’m not the best at small talk. For example, one time I mentioned something about how nice the weather was, and in reply the delivery man said “Not really, it’s raining…” An awkward and lengthy pause then followed.

On one occassion when I worked in retail, I started chatting to a customer about his children to which, like any other parent, declared that no one loves his children as much as he does. A few years ago, his son was very sick – to the point where doctors weren’t sure if he’d make it through the night. When he saw the determination on the face of his son’s girlfriend that night, he then realised someone loved his son more than he did. His son made it through the night and he plans on telling this story at the wedding (the wedding is next April FYI. Still waiting on my invite). Long story short, an hour passed and I was in tears on the middle of the sales floor trying to sell this man a vacuum. I’m not sure how I get involved in these sorts of conversations but I do and I love it.

Anyone who knows me will know that I’d prefer to talk about the meaning of life than talk about the weather – because obviously I know nothing about that. I have this real desire to get to know people and for them to really see who I am and what I stand for. It’s an understanding that not everyone nor everything is as it seems. I live for those moments when you just bare your soul to someone, talk about things that matter and learn something new. Because the way I see it, life’s too short to talk about the price of petrol.

There are some down sides to being like this. For instance, I sometimes fear people avoid me like the plague because I’m likely to corner them at a bar around 10pm on a Saturday night and start discussing the economic crisis.

So if you’re like me and get bored of talking about the same old stuff, try these conversation starters. These conversation tips can be used on random people at bars, at a McDonalds Drive Through and even on first dates. It’s important however to note that using these conversation topics will not guarantee you a second date*.

  1. “If you won $2 million, how would you spend it and why”
  2. “What’s your view on extra-terrestrials?”
  3. “Do you believe global warming exists?”
  4. This one is best kept for awkward elevator situations; “I’m really good company if we were to get stuck in this elevator at any point”
  5. “What do you think is the most important global issue humanity faces at the moment?”
  6. “So what do you think ever happened to that Malaysian Airlines plane?”
  7. “I think it’s only a matter of time before apes take over our planet – thoughts?
  8. “To what extent has your upbringing shaped the way you are?”
  9. “What would be your Wrestler name and why?”
  10. Last but not least; “What do you think your purpose is [on this earth]?”

If you were to ask any of my friends, here’s how they would start conversations:

  • “How much do you know about window cleaning?”
  • “Let’s talk about plane conspiracy theories”
  • “How are you challenging yourself to become a better person?”
  • “If you’re worried about conceiving, it’s best to freeze your eggs in your late twenties and then find a suitable partner”

Not sure how user-friendly these conversation starters are but I enourage you to go out, talk to people and really get to know them.

*Can’t tell you what secures you a second date at this point in my dating life, sorry.



One thought on “The art of small talk

  1. Pingback: Stop, collaborate and reflect | Living & Learning

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