Small talk topics are good conversation starters between people who don't know each other well. If you live withsocial anxiety disorder (SAD), making small talk can be anxiety-provoking. It can also be difficult if you tend to be more introverted.
Small talk refers to an informal, polite conversation that often focuses on unimportant or trivial topics. While such social transactions focus on inconsequential topics, they serve as important ways to build rapport, connection, and relationships.
Learning to make small talk can help build the confidence you need to start conversations, make connections, and develop your social skills. Even if you are uncomfortable, avoiding small talk altogether only serves to worsen anxiety in the long run.
Rather than being scared of small talk, make a point of overcoming your fear of it. One good way to alleviate anxiety is to know what things to talk about and what to avoid.
Arts and entertainment
Politics and religion
Offensive jokes(Video) 6 Worst Small Talk Topics To Bring Up #shorts
Best Small Talk Topics
If you are looking for some good conversation starters, here are a few topics to consider.
Although talking about the weather may seem mundane, it is a good neutral topic that everyone can discuss. Did a big storm just blow through? Are you in the middle of a heatwave?
Look no further than outside your door for conversation starters such as:
- Lovely day, don't you think?
- Looks like rain is in the forecast.
- Did you order this beautiful weather?
Practice making small talk about the weather by asking someone one of these questions the next time you find yourself in the middle of an awkward silence. They may open up other topics as the conversation progresses.
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and entertainment topics that are good conversation starters include:
- Movies and television shows
- Popular restaurants
- Popular music
Examples of things you might ask are:
- Are you reading any great books? I could use some recommendations.
- Are there any podcasts you love?
- Have you tried any new apps or games lately that you really like? I could use some suggestions.
Skip talking about movies, television, or books that your conversation partner has not seen or read. If no one else has seen the movie, don't go into detail about the plot or the funny scenes. Find some common ground and build your discussion from there.
You might have to ask several people before you get someone interested in talking with you—that's okay. Be okay with rejection, or actually seek it out. It's all just practice, after all.
Remember that small talk is about building a bridge between you and another person. It doesn't matter so much what you talk about, but rather that you start talking.
Sports topics are good things to talk about with people you don't know very well. They can include:
- Favorite or local teams
- Sporting events
- Tournaments or championships
Keep track of what sports are played during which seasons—such as football, soccer, hockey, and golf—so you are on top of the current action. The Olympic Games are always a good option if they are taking place as everyone is sure to be buzzing about them.
If your conversation partner supports a rival team, avoid trash-talking. Instead, focus on keeping your discussion on things like team or player performance.
Ask someone, "Did you catch that golf tournament over the weekend?" While this might feel uncomfortable the first few times you do it, eventually, it will feel more natural to you.
People are likely to ask you about your family. Conversation starters about family may include:
- Do you have any brothers or sisters?
- How long have you been with your partner?
- Where does your family live?
Be prepared for these types of questions and reciprocate by asking others about their families. Engaging in this type of small talk displays your communication skills. It also helps you learn a lot about a person in a short period of time.
Although family can be a great conversation starter, use caution when asking about potentially sensitive topics. For example, asking someone if they have kids or plan to have kids can be difficult if that person is experiencing infertility. If the other person brings up their children, however, feel free to ask about them.
Food can be a great topic for small talk as long as you keep it neutral and focus on the positive. You might ask someone for recommendations for local restaurants, ask what their favorite dish to order is, or if they enjoy cooking at home.
Some examples of food-based topics include:
- Have you tried any new restaurants lately?
- What's your favorite meal to cook at home?
- Do you have any ideas for good work lunches? I'm out of ideas and I'm sick of sandwiches.
As with other conversation starters, stick to positive topics and avoid complaining about foods you dislike.
Another popular small talk topic is work. You may be asked what you do or whether you like your job. If you do something unusual that is hard to explain, consider keeping business cards in your wallet. This works particularly well if your company has a website that people can visit.
You might start a chat with an opener such as:
- How long have you worked as a [insert job title]/How long have worked at [insert company]?
- What do you enjoy most about your job?
- That is an interesting line of work. How did you get into it?
Always focus on what you'd like to learn about others and things you enjoy talking about. This will make the process of small talk feel more like fun than work.
Be careful to avoid getting into complaints or grievances about work, however. Others might develop poor perceptions of you based on these negative interactions.
People like to hear about vacations. If you travel, be ready to answer questions and give your opinions about the places you have visited.
Ask others about their favorite travel spots and what they recommend. Many people like to help and will be happy to share their experiences. This can also be a great way to put your conversation partner in a happy frame of mind by allowing them to recount a joyful vacation.
Frequent Travel Can Make for Happier Life, Study Shows
It isn't necessary to follow celebrity gossip to make small talk. However, it is a good idea to know a little bit about some of the most popular celebrities in case the topic comes up.
Save this type of small talk for informal gatherings or casual parties, not work events. Unless everyone else at your work conference is discussing a celebrity, it's best to lead with something else.
Joining a Conversation
If you are trying to break into a group conversation, always establish eye contact, smile, and introduce yourself first. Then listen and remember the names of the other people in the group.
People like to talk about their hobbies and are likely to be interested in yours. If you don't have any hobbies, consider trying something new. Not only will you have something to talk about, but having a hobby will give you a chance to meet others with similar interests.
Be sure to ask follow-up questions as you listen to someone talk about their hobbies. Listen between the lines, as well. If someone says, "That was the last time I ever went skiing," for instance, ask why.
In a small talk situation, you might be asked about your hometown. For example:
- How is where you grew up different from where you live now?
- Why did you leave?
Have an interesting anecdote or story ready to tell. Ask others about their hometowns as well. You never know who might be from the same place as you, making this a good opportunity to form a connection.
How to Remember Names
How can you remember people's names? Focus, repeat the name, think of someone you know with that name, use the name in conversation, and say it again when leaving the conversation.
Worst Small Talk Topics
Once you know a few good conversation starters, it's helpful to also recognize what type of small talk topics you're better off avoiding.
Asking personal financial questions of people you've just met is inappropriate. It is fine to ask what someone does for work or the positive aspects of that career, but do not ask about their salary. Most people will find this question intrusive and inappropriate, and it may bring up some bad vibes if they have financial stress.
Politics and Religion
The problem with talking about politics is that you never know who in the crowd may have strong opinions. Stay away from this topic unless you want to risk ending up in the middle of a heated conversation. Religion is another extremely personal and potentially sensitive topic that should be avoided.
Talking about sex or asking questions of an intimate nature is inappropriate during small talk. When talking with strangers, avoid talking openly about sexual topics and refrain from making sexual innuendos. Both are likely to make others uncomfortable.
Deathis another heavy topic that should be avoided during small talk. When you are in thecompany of strangers, do not bring up emotional topics that have the potential to be upsetting.
Unless you know someone well, don't ask their age. Although the question might seem simple to you, it can be a hot topic for some.
In addition, avoid questions related to appearance. Do not ask anyone if they arepregnant or comment that they have lost weight. You never know the reason for weight gain or loss and, as a result, could be left in an uncomfortable situation.
While celebrity gossip is fair game during small talk, gossip about people you know personally is not. Gossiping about others not only paints you in a bad light but you never know who might know each other. Not bad-mouthing others can save you from potential embarrassment.
Making sexist or racist jokes is offensive and a quick way to enda conversation. Save your sensitive jokes for yourbest friends—or better yet, replace them with jokes that don't have time and place restrictions.
Sometimes people make jokes they don't realize might offend others. If the joke pokes fun at someone due to their race, culture, sex, or sexual orientation, skip it. Also avoid jokes that touch on hot-button, controversial, or political issues.
If your joke is at the expense of someone else, it's best to avoid it.
Avoid talking at length about topics that are one-sided. This might include specialized expertise in a particular field or uncommon hobbies of which your conversation partner has no knowledge.
This doesn't mean you don't have to avoid mentioning these topics entirely. If someone asks you what your hobbies are, for instance, mentioning some uncommon ones can be an interesting jumping-off point for certain conversations.
The key is to keep the discussion more general and skip getting into long-winded speeches about highly specialized things you are passionate about (unless the other person shares those same passions).
Watch for signs that others have lost interest and, if they appear, find a quick ending to your story.
Avoid talking about past relationships on afirst date or within other small talk conversations. When forging new romantic connections, making comparisons or talking endlessly about a past love interest is a turnoff and may ensure you don't get a second date.
Talking about past relationships tends to focus on negative topics, which is generally something you should try to avoid when making small talk. Your conversation partner may be hesitant to talk, as well, if it seems like you might talk negatively about them in the future.
Health issues tend to make poor choices for small talk. While you might be tempted to share the latest health kick you're trying, or ache and pain you're suffering, the person you are sharing it with may be less interested. Some topics to avoid include:
- Telling people how they should feel about a health condition
- Offering "quick cures" for complex medical issues
- Suggesting that people could lose weight or get fit by following your tips
Avoid discussing potentially sensitive health issues, whether they are your own or somebody else's. Asking others about their health can come off as intrusive, so it's best to avoid it.
How to Start Small Talk
There are a number of things you can do to help make small talk easier, whether you are meeting new people or dealing with social anxiety at a party. Asking open-ended questions and engaging in active listening can help you have great conversations with new people.
Some good small talk questions that can help initiate a conversation include:
- What do you do?
- Where did you grow up?
- Do you have any pets?
- Have you been enjoying the nice weather?
- Have you been enjoying the food here?
- What have you been watching on tv lately?
- Have you read any good books lately?
- How are you today?
- Did you happen to catch the game this week?
Try to stay positive and discuss optimistic topics. Avoid complaining, airing grievances, or displaying a pessimistic attitude. If you do bring up something that isn't generating interest or find yourself in an awkward conversation, change the subject and move on to something else.
A Word From Verywell
Remember, making small talk gets easier with practice. Consider starting conversations and rehearse some topics that you might want to use and you will find it easier to talk to strangers—without feeling stressed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of small talk?
Small talk is a good way to start a conversation with someone you don't know or don't know well. If the talk progresses, it can even start a friendship. Small talk is also a good way to pass the time in certain situations, such as when waiting in line at the store.
How do you avoid small talk?
If small talk makes you truly uncomfortable, you can avoid it by politely excusing yourself from the conversation. If you are engaged in a book or have your earbuds in, it's also less likely that someone will try to start a conversation with you.
That said, if your goal in avoiding small talk is to have more meaningful conversations, asking open-ended questions is a good way to prompt a more in-depth discussion.
How do you get better at making small talk?
Practice, practice, and practice some more. Like anything in life, if you want to get better at making small talk, you benefit from doing it more often. One way you can practice making small talk is to try starting a conversation with people you don't know whenever you can. Stores, waiting rooms, and other public places are good places to practice your small talk skills.
Why do introverts hate small talk?
Some introverts hate small talk because they're shy and talking with people they don't know makes them feel uncomfortable. Others simply prefer to be alone and find social interactions mentally draining. Introverts also tend to enjoy deeper conversations more. So, small talk might not stimulate them mentally.
Learn More:How to Tell You Are an Introvert
What are the three parts of small talk?
Small talk involves three parts: an ice breaker (which initiates the conversation), rapport (where you ask further questions to continue the conversation), and an exit (which involves gracefully ending the conversation).(Video) Celeste Headlee: 10 ways to have a better conversation | TED
Never ask people about finances (wage or salary), politics, religion, death, age and appearance. Avoid offensive jokes to break the ice, narrow topics, past relationships, serial killers and illnesses as you could easily offend someone or be viewed as a negative person.What topic is best to talk about? ›
- Tell me about yourself. ...
- What's been the best part of your day so far? ...
- What do you do to relax? ...
- What book are you reading right now? ...
- What's your favorite thing about your hometown? ...
- What's the last thing you bought online that you really loved?
Surface-level conversations are those that scratch the surface of a topic rather than delving deep into it. They are the kind of conversations that revolve around small talk, such as discussing the weather or how your day was.What are the hardest topics to talk about? ›
Talking with your child about separation, illness, death or other life-changing topics might be emotional and distressing for both of you. Having difficult conversations is hard, but if you handle it well it can bring you and your child closer together and help you to understand each other.What topic are most difficult to talk about? ›
You might find it tough to talk about physical intimacy with your partner, or reveal your real career goals to your parents. You might find it tough to disclose your disappointments to a friend, or divulge your deepest feelings and fears to your closest people. Any topic can become a difficult topic to discuss.What are the 5 common topics? ›
The five common topics are: definition, comparison, circumstance, relationship, and authority.What are deep topics? ›
- Who is your biggest role model?
- What's your best memory from childhood?
- Where do you want to be in 10 years?
- What's your definition of success?
- What's your personal motto?
- What one day would you choose to live over in your life?
- What advice you would give to your 18-year-old self?
Some common sensitive topics include: developmental delays, behavior, family changes, sexuality, cultural customs, and social practices. There will be other sensitive topics that arise based on the needs and expectations of individual children, families, and your community.What to ask in an awkward conversation? ›
- “Where are you from?” ...
- “What was your least favorite job?” ...
- “Are you having a nice time?” ...
- “What do you do?” ...
- “Tell me about your family.”
The answer is simple – ask questions. By allowing the other person to take center stage initially, you can build your comfort level and test the waters before sharing your own thoughts. If you feel uncomfortable or fatigued mid-conversation, ask more questions and subtly turn the attention away from yourself.
Types of speech disorder include stuttering, apraxia, and dysarthria. There are many possible causes of speech disorders, including muscles weakness, brain injuries, degenerative diseases, autism, and hearing loss. Speech disorders can affect a person's self-esteem and their overall quality of life.