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6 Great Small Talk Topics for Every Situation

Aug 18, 2007
Do you regard finding a small talk topic during conversations to be an ardous chore? You are not alone - many people think that making small talk is a particularly hard thing to do. But there are ways to make finding a small talk topic a much easier task.

Why is making small talk so difficult for some people? Some people find it hard because they may not be confident about their conversational skills - as is the case with foreigners who are new to using the English language. Or they might not be highly educated, so they may feel intimidated in the presence of more highly educated people or people in authority. Small talk also gets hard because, even if one person initiates conversation, the other party may not be inclined to answer or have communication problems of his own.

One party might have religious or political sensibilities that cause him to be defensive or even hostile (which is one reason why it is not recommended for conversation to focus on religious or political topics). Cultural differences may also exist, making one or both parties hesitant to pursue conversation until common ground can be uncovered.

Here are some tips that should make finding a small talk topic less difficult:

1) Ask the other party or parties a lot of questions about themselves. Not only is this the polite thing to do, it also helps move along the conversational ball.

2) Be sure to listen to the responses to your questions. It would not do to ask a barrage of questions then not pay attention to the replies of the other person. Plus, if you listen closely, the responses to your questions may lead you to ask even more in-depth questions.

3) Ask questions that are relevant to the other person - such as questions about their background, their family, any friends you have in common, or what he may like to do. This opens up areas in his life that he may have in common with you, posing an opportunity to bond.

4) Be well-read and well-informed about a host of topics. You have heard it said that it pays to read a lot and it is true - if you know a lot about different topics, you can easily conduct a conversation with people from different backgrounds. It will not be so hard to find a small talk topic then.

5) Keep the flow of the conversation on a casual keel. You might panic if the conversation takes on a very deep tone, such as when you are talking about politics or business, because then it becomes harder to find common ground that you can agree on. Topics should be light, hopefully cheerful, so that you will be able to bond better with the other party.

6) Avoid controversial topics, like asking if the other person is gay. Controversial topics might only put the other person on the defensive. Also, you and the other person might be on opposite sides of the issue.

What are some common topics that you can safely conduct small talk about? You could initiate small talk about:

1) Sports - almost everyone likes some kind of sport.

2) Hobbies

3) Weather and climate being experienced

4) Your respective spouses and children

5) Media - such as television shows, movies, or music that both of you may like.

6) Holidays that you think the other person may enjoy (but refrain from talking about how much your holiday cost you - unless the other party brings it up.)

7) Your respective hometowns

8) General information about the occupation of each person.

9) Current trends in art or fashion.

10) Gossip about famous people.

Hopefully all these tips will allow you to have an easier time looking for a small talk topic.
About the Author
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report: 10 Simple Steps to Developing Communication Confidence. Apply now because it is available only at: conversation starters
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