Struggling to Make Small Talk? 3 Safe Topics to Keep the Conversation Going


Whether you’re networking or kicking off an interview, small talk is an important skill when you are setting off on your job search. Some candidates are highly skilled in shooting the breeze with their prospective hiring managers, but others need to learn how to manage a conversation. Having a selection of no pressure ice breakers is a great way to make sure you have something to say when you need to build a rapport. Here are three safe topics to keep the conversation going.

Shop Talk

If you are looking to build some momentum with a co-worker or a manager, the obvious thing to talk about is the projects and company level news that will spark their interest. If you have some interesting updates in terms of the project work you have been focused on, feel free to share. Highlight your accomplishments and share your successes to leverage their good will and build interest while you have their ear. If there have been some big announcements on a company level, these are also perfectly appropriate to discuss. The important thing to remember is that when shop talk turns into gossip, it will only hinder your efforts for relationship building. Avoid it at all costs because you never know when it can come back to harm you and your reputation.

Interesting Books and Shows

If you are looking to engage in a little more casual conversation, book recommendations and popular TV shows are a gold mine. Talking about your favorite reads (books, blogs, journal articles are all great) you are not only spreading the knowledge of what’s worth paying attention to, but you’re also subtly highlighting how well read you are. If you want to talk about popular TV, stick to work-safe programs that you know would be interesting to your conversation partner.

Movies are equally relevant to this conversation, as are podcasts, blogs, websites, and apps. Connecting with people over something relevant to their lives outside of work will help personalize you to your audience, and build a stronger connection.

Weekend Plans

Everybody loves the weekend, and they especially love to talk about their weekends. If you’re going in to the end of week time frame, ask what they have planned. If you’re chatting with someone early on a Monday, ask them what they did. Where did they go? What did they do? Whose company did they enjoy? Would they recommend their experience to you? The key here is to ask your conversation partner what they did, because as much as people like talking about themselves, they rarely are as interested in hearing about your weekend.

The point to this conversation is to build a positive rapport. Show an interest in their experiences and their perspectives, and they will remember the conversation in a positive light. Next time you find yourself struggling to fill a void in the flow of conversation, think about what the other person would like to talk about. Then give them the opportunity.

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