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5 great conversation starters to make small talk more natural

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Perhaps it’s an underrated skill, but effective small talk is one of adulthood’s great minor talents.

Having pleasant small talk at the ready can put people at ease, amuse them, and even help strengthen or create relationships. This can apply at work, on a date, at a family reunion, or just about anywhere else. Although there isn’t a whole lot of small-talk data available, it seems likely that many, or even most, people aren’t so adept at shooting the breeze, meaning anyone who can fill the awkward silence might be viewed favorably just by doing it.

So what’s the best way to break the ice? How does one become a good small talker? Here are five great conversation starters that can show you how to small talk naturally.

Talk about the weather

It’s a cliché for a reason. The weather is in no way controversial and will always affect every man, woman, and child within earshot.

This is, without question, the safest discussion topic to pursue. Conservatives and liberals alike are affected by hot weather or a chance of thunderstorms. Because it’s so neutral, anyone or everyone with whom you’re attempting to communicate will freely volunteer an opinion or an informational nugget on the forecast.

The downside: it doesn’t last that long. A normal group of people can probably talk about the weather for a couple of minutes, tops, at which point you’ll have to move on. Think of this as the kindling that can help you start a fire, but can’t singlehandedly create one on its own.

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What brings you here?

This is another true classic: so simple, and yet so effective. Whenever you’re meeting someone for the first time or aren’t familiar with those around you, there’s always a reason why someone is at a certain location.

If it’s a work function, what’s the motivation for attending this meeting or reception. If it’s an airport, asking where a person is going is a great ice-breaker.

Never underestimate peoples’ desires to discuss themselves and share details of their lives (even if very minor details) with someone who seems interested, even in a passing way.

Ask questions

Let’s take the previous recommendation and stretch it a little further. It could be a restaurant recommendation or it could be what another person does for a living. Questions are never a bad way to go.

What better way to get people talking than to request their input on something or to supply information about themselves?

Don’t be too intense about it; you don’t want to feel as if you’re probing into inappropriate territory. If you’re at, let’s say, a baseball game, maybe asking about their job or family status isn’t the sharpest idea. But keep the context in mind and you’ll never go wrong.

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We’ve all got to eat, right? This won’t work if there’s no food around, but since small talk situations are often accompanied by food, you should be in good shape more often than not.

Is something particularly tasty or creatively plated? Make a pleasant or humorous comment to that effect. This is an excellent way to ingratiate yourself to a cook or host. Don’t be afraid to lay it on thick — “seriously, this is the best asparagus I’ve ever had” — but not too thick. You don’t want to seem insincere or like a kiss-up.

Anyone watching any good shows right now?

This is a golden age of television, and with a wealth of options across the many streaming services as well as traditional TV, just about everyone is binging something. And just about anyone is willing to make a recommendation and explain their show to the circle.

Since everyone’s tastes are different, there’s really no “right” or “wrong” answer, which can further help lessen the tension, making it a “safer” conversation to join.

This grab bag of small-talk conversation starters represents a variety of topics for a variety of scenarios. As long as you can match the right comment to the right circumstance, you’ll be leading the group in no time.

That said, there’s no ironclad path to success here, and everyone’s comfort zones are different. For example, the use of humor works great for some people (specifically, those people who are funny), but it may not be a natural fit for those who play things a little closer to the vest. Applying your personality to these comments will help your authentic self come out. That, in turn, supplies the confidence you need to take a lead role in your next small-talk opportunity.

BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.

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Scott Harris
Scott Harris is a freelance writer based near Washington, DC, with more than a decade of experience covering health…
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