The world runs on conversations, it is how relationships are built and fostered. They are also a great way to learn about the lives of those you see on a regular basis. However, in the bid to be friendly, it is important that the conversations you have are enthralling enough to hold the attention of other people. Awkward conversations are not easy to have and can be quite embarrassing, to avoid dead air when you speak and cringing from how terrible a discussion is, find topics that would interest people or stir them to speak.
More so, trying to have engaging conversations even with people you are familiar with can be tricky, especially when you don’t want to cross boundaries on issues your relative or friend is not ready to talk about yet. Nonetheless, there are several things you can come up with to talk about without hitting a nerve.
Interesting Topics To Talk About With People You Are Familiar With
It’s always fun to be around family and friends, be it during a festive period or just a usual gathering that happens every now and then. We usually get caught up in the mood of the season or occasion and conversations just keep flowing from one thing into another. However, it is still possible to struggle with coming up with things to say even with family members and friends (boyfriends and girlfriends inclusive) whom you have known for a long time. This is what leads to awkward conversations that may cause a bad impression on the person about you. When you are stuck in a conversational rut without anything to say, you can use these pointers:
1. Try to get them to talk about themselves
It is easier for people to talk about themselves, this is a topic that they can say a lot on. They are also less likely to say something wrong as they are in a comfort zone and things will just flow naturally. More so, getting people to talk about their life is a great tip to use when there is a lag in conversation because studies have shown that people always love to talk about themselves. You can ask questions like:
– Have you been able to start your Yoga classes yet?
– Do you like your new neighborhood?
– Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn and why haven’t you started yet?
2. Talk about their goals
This is a conversation starter with people who you have known for a long time. You can share ideas on the goals you have for yourself and the future, the other person can do the same with you. Even when you did not start your discussion with it, you can still chip it in at the appropriate time during the course of the conversation. Questions you can ask in this regard include:
– What are your goals for your present job?
– Have you ever failed at achieving a goal, what was responsible for that?
– How did your goals help change your perspective in life?
Fun activities that people like to engage in during their free time are fodder for an engaging conversation. You can ask these type of questions:
– Do you have any new activities that take up your free time?
– How is your dancing going?
– Have you completed your piano lessons, please play something for the family?
People form memorable experiences when they travel, all of which can be shared with other people. The questions do not only have to be about a journey they have returned from, it could also be about where they would like to go.
– How did your vacation in Spain go?
– Have you ever traveled alone?
– What is the scariest thing that happened to you on a trip?
The average person spends a good chunk of their day working, this is also something fun that you can talk about with them.
– What do you like about your job?
– What’s your position at your present workplace?
– How much do you like your co-workers?
Everybody eats, so this is always a fun topic for people to engage in as they will like to express their personal preferences for food. Start the conversation by asking questions like:
– What’s your guilty pleasure in terms of snacks?
– What type of cooking do you like to engage in?
– What are your thoughts on dieting?
7. Past Experiences
Unlike most of the topics that we have provided on this list, talking about past experiences is something that helps you bond more with people you know. It enables you to learn new things about both friends and family members. Using these questions should be done at your own discretion.
– What was your childhood like?
– What plans did you have for yourself as an adult?
– Where did you grow up?
8. The Future
Looking forward is a common human trait but the specifics of what people want from the future are particular to them. Asking about their short and long-term goals can be a way to have an engaging and riveting conversation.
– What is your plan for the weekend?
– Where do you see yourself living in the next 10 years?
– What is that one thing you will like to kick off your list in the coming year?
9. Favorite TV Shows
Family members and close friends are the perfect persons to always discuss your favorite TV shows with. In most cases, you all might be hooked on the same show and it is a great topic to discuss. You can start by asking questions like:
– Who is your favorite character in (name of the TV show)?
– What do you think will happen to (name of character ) in the next episode?
– Do you think (name of the TV show) would have a season 2?
10. Talk About Your Likes & Dislikes
Talking about your likes and dislikes with your friends and family members is a great topic to help you bond and discover different things about your preferences. You can start by asking questions like;
– Who are your favorite authors and why?
– Which flavor of ice cream is your best?
– Which time of the year do you dread and why?
How To Keep A Conversation Going When Speaking To Strangers
The things you can talk about with people you know differ from what you can talk about with those you are not familiar with. For strangers, finding out things you share in common with the other person will make for an engaging conversation – this is a certified icebreaker. Talking about shared interests gives both of you the chance to express your feelings on the same topic and from there go on to other topics. You both get to speak at length on a range of topics and if you are lucky, you will find something that both of you like. Here, we have provided great topics you can discuss with a stranger and sample questions to ask under each topic.
Sample Topics To Explore When Talking With Strangers And You Have Nothing To Say
Events in the news are bound to get people excited and meaning to contribute to a conversation. Do you want an engaging conversation? Talk about the news.
– What do you think about the news today?
– How often do you watch the news?
– Where do you watch the news?
Sports in itself is a unifying activity seeing as it is best experienced with other people. Bearing this in mind, it is a great way to start a riveting conversation. You can begin by asking these questions:
– What teams do you support?
– What was the last game you went to?
– Do you play any sports?
This is a topic that would usually work if you both have children. It gives you and the other person something in common to talk about. More so, it can be used by people who do not have kids yet, to see what their opinions about kids are.
– How old is your youngest child?
– How many children would you like to have?
– Son or daughter, which would you like to have first?
Pets are a common fixture in people’s lives, especially for people who like animals. Asking about their pets gives the other person something to talk about.
– Are you a cat person or a dog person?
– What do you think about owning a pet?
– What pet would you like to have?
The conversation you are trying to have with a stranger is based on the premise of building a relationship with them. Asking about relationships can give you an insight into how they feel about this topic and who would not want to talk about something so riveting?
– What are your friends like?
– How old is your longest relationship with a friend?
– How many siblings do you have?
The world runs on technology and there is no escaping it. The average person most likely has a phone or a laptop, in most cases both. There is a range of things to talk about when it comes to tech. You can stick to the basics or go in-depth with the person. Here are questions that are tech-centric.
– What are your thoughts on the invasive nature of the internet?
– Do you think people need to share all the details of their lives online?
– What are your favorite apps?
This can fall under the purview of food, but it is much more specific to where food can be gotten. On one hand, you learn about where to find good food while learning more about the person you are speaking to and it is a win-win situation.
– What restaurants around here do you think have good food?
– Where is your favorite place to eat?
– Fine dining or casual dining which do you prefer more?
Many people love watching movies and it is a great topic to discuss, especially with strangers. It will eventually ease the tension between you two as you get to learn more about the preferences of the person you are talking with. Some questions you can ask include:
– What’s the title of the last film you watched?
– Romance or horror? Which do you prefer?
– Who do you consider the best actor/actress of all time and why?
If the person you are speaking to is someone who loves art, you can leverage on that to ask them several questions like:
– Which artists’ works do you enjoy?
– Which museums have you visited?
– Are you interested in ‘post-internet art’?
10. The Weather
Talking about the weather is a great topic to discuss with a stranger. If the person lives in the same area as you do, both of you will have a wide range of things to discuss, likewise if both of you live in different locations. You can ask questions like:
– What is your favorite weather?
– Will rainy weather stop you from going to the cinema?
– What do you do more if it’s sunny, have a BBQ, or go hiking?
What Topics Are Inappropriate When Having A Conversation?
In your bid to have an engaging conversation, there are topics that will always stir the pot and cause interesting feedback. However, there are points to avoid when you are having your first conversation with someone, as they are usually sensitive topics that many believe should be reserved for people you trust. Here is a list of topics that you should avoid when talking to someone for the first time:
It will be very inappropriate to talk about some sensitive political opinions you have with someone who is not a close friend or relative. This might even cause a strain on the budding relationship you are trying to form.
The money-talk is usually a private conversation that many do not discuss with people they don’t trust. It will hereby be awkward to chip it into your conversation with people that are not close to you.
Many people might seem to get along on diverse levels but have various ideologies when it comes to their spiritual beliefs. Talking about religion is hereby a delicate issue that should be approached with extreme caution in order not to cause a rift between you and people.
4. Health Issues:
Speaking about someone’s health condition when they do not feel comfortable with it makes the conversation awkward. Health issues, especially with regards to terminal illnesses are best reserved for close friends and family members.
5. Relationship and Personal Issues:
Everyone faces one form of personal crisis or relationship challenges but many feel more comfortable speaking on such issues with people they trust. It would be awkward to raise questions about someone’s personal issues without their consent.
Quick Tips For Sustaining A Conversation
You won’t be able to have an engaging conversation if you do not know the basics of having good conversations. So, if you are currently struggling with this or want to brush up on your conversational skills there are a few things that you need to do when having a conversation:
- Maintain eye contact while speaking.
- Be interested.
- Listen attentively.
- Nod occasionally when you are not the one speaking.
- Give feedback on what the other person has said.
- Ask appropriate questions at strategic times during the conversation.
- Know when the conversation has gotten to its end.