The awkward silence moment. We’ve all been there. It’s uncomfortable and can be totally embarrassing. You look away and hope you’ll somehow get interrupted. You know their feeling the same way…
I have some good and bad news. The bad news is that I can’t promise this unpleasant situation will never happen again. But, the good news is that you can be better equipped to handle these moments moving forward. HOW?
I’ve come up with a list of 20 interesting topics to talk about with 10 questions apiece – that’s 200 questions!
There are topics and questions for a variety of situations. Some are simply for fun and others are more serious.
These topics to talk about will help you feel more confident at the next work function, date, party, small gathering with friends, and/or a run-in with an acquaintance in the produce aisle (maybe that’s pushing it but you never know!)
The majority of the questions are asking people about themselves. Why? Because people love talking about themselves. Let them! They’ll leave the conversation feeling good and so will you. It’s a win-win.
Additionally, the suggested topics to talk about primarily have questions that are open-ended. The purpose of this is to keep the conversation flowing otherwise you may end up with a simple “no” or “yes” answer, both of which can be difficult to build upon.
The way you ask a question can determine the quality of the response you receive. An easy way to remember how to ask an open-ended question is the 5 W’s:
It’s relatively simple to turn any question into an open-ended one but may take some practice to be consistent at it.
Before we get started, I think it’s important to mention discrepancy is key in any social setting. While these topics and questions are intended to be helpful and harmless, you still need to assess the situation. Some things to consider:
- Who are you talking to?
- Where are you?
- How well do you know the person?
- Are you aware of any sensitive situations they may be experiencing?
- Is the topic appropriate given the overall situation
For example, asking someone at the next high-powered work conference if they believe in aliens is weird. That type of question is better suited for a casual party, perhaps after a few cocktails (did I even need to tell you that?)
It’s also worth mentioning that a conversation is not an interrogation! Make the interaction natural and flow. Spouting off questions is just as bad as an awkward silence.
Rather, bring up a topic then listen intently. You can then offer your perspective and experiences in moderation. It is likely that they will ask you follow up questions because a conversation is a two-way street!
Check out this super helpful Forbes article, 10 Steps to Effective Listening. You’ll find tips to become a great listener, which is the foundation of any good conversation.
Let’s dig in, shall we? Here are 20 interesting topics to talk about. There is something for every situation…
Questions about work can be hit or miss because sometimes the last thing people want to talk about is their job. They might be trying to blow off some steam and leave their cares behind for the evening.
On the other hand, it has the potential to be the perfect topic to talk about because some people are passionate about their jobs or careers.
Like all topics, gauge the situation before asking the oh so popular “what do you do” question.
Assuming you get a green light to talk about work, here are some helpful questions…
- What do you do for work? (always a good place to start when asking about work)
- What qualifications do you need to do that job?
- What was your very first job?
- If you could do anything for work what would it be?
- How do you like your boss?
- What’s your relationship like with your coworkers?
- How do you feel about dating someone at your job?
- What’s the best job you’ve ever had?
- What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
- What is your dream job?
Asking someone about their goals is a great topic to talk about around the new year for obvious reasons.
But it’s also a perfect topic anytime because most people are excited about what they’re working toward.
- What goals did you set for yourself this year?
- How will you know when you reached your goal?
- What is your timeframe for reaching your goal?
- What goals would you like to reach in the next 5 years?
- What is the one goal you want to reach before you die?
- If you knew you couldn’t fail what goal would you go after?
- How do you feel about making New Year’s resolutions?
- What goals are you working on right now?
- What is the biggest and/or best goal you’ve reached in the past?
- What are the top 3 goals on your bucket list?
Typically, asking questions about family is best when you know the person. Family can be a difficult topic to talk about when you’re first meeting someone. Use your best judgment!
If you know the person the following are great questions to ask. Talking about family experiences can strengthen a friendship!
- How many siblings do you have?
- What’s your relationship like with your siblings?
- What’s your relationship like with your parents?
- What is the best thing about your family?
- What is the thing you like least about your family?
- What traditions does your family have?
- How did your family traditions start?
- What is your favorite childhood memory?
- What is your worst childhood memory (be careful of this one so you’re not triggering anyone and be prepared to offer support if needed)
- Do you have a family of your own?
For the most part, asking questions about friendship is a safe bet!
- What qualities do you look for in a friend?
- Do you still have childhood friends?
- Are you the type of person who has many friends or a handful of close ones?
- Do you consider yourself to be a good friend?
- How did you meet your best friend?
- Do you have friends that you consider to be family?
- Who is the friend you’ve had the longest?
- What is the nicest thing a friend has ever done for you?
- What is the worst thing a friend ever did to you?
- How did you handle the situation?
Questions about hobbies are always a hit because they are enjoyable. It’s highly unlikely you’ll find someone who does a hobby they hate!
Hobbies are a topic that people naturally expand upon in a conversation, particularly if they’re passionate about it! This is what makes it a perfect topic to talk about!
- What are your hobbies?
- How did you start that hobby?
- How long have you been doing your hobby?
- How did you learn to do it?
- How often do you do your hobby?
- Can you make money doing your hobby?
- If you could turn your hobby into a job or career, would you?
- What do you like most about your hobby?
- How much does your hobby cost?
- What new hobby would you like to try?
6. Skills and talents
People love talking about what they’re good at so let them!
- What are you good at?
- How long did it take you to get good at it?
- Did you take lessons or are you self-taught?
- What skill would you like to work on developing?
- What are your natural talents?
- What skill or talent do you get complimented on the most?
- What areas of your life do you use your skills and talents the most?
- What skill or talent do you wish you were good at?
- Can/do you make money using this skill or talent?
- How did you become interested in this skill or talent?
7. Random topics
Most of the following are silly and lighthearted. These questions are best used when kicking back and having fun, such as at a party. They can also be used as fun questions on a date or with your crush.
- What is your favorite food?
- What is your favorite season?
- What 3 items would you want if you were stranded on an island?
- If you could drink a potion that could make you live forever would you?
- What do you think about the idea of life on other planets?
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
- If you could make 3 wishes come true what would they be?
- What would you do if you won the lottery?
- What do you believe about spirits and ghosts?
- Have you ever seen a ghost?
8. Would you rather topics/questions
Everyone loves would you rather questions!
Would you rather questions bring up funny topics to talk about, which makes them ideal to use at most social gatherings.
They are also a great way to get to know people. You can learn a lot about someone’s personality with these types of questions.
- Would you rather have more time or money?
- Would you rather live in a cabin in the woods or in the city?
- Would you rather win the lottery or have guaranteed happiness for the rest of your life?
- Would you rather work at your dream job with a moderate salary or a job that you hate that pays a ton of money?
- Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
- Would you rather relax poolside or on the beach?
- Would you rather famous or live a private life?
- Would you rather travel to the moon or visit the titanic?
- Would you rather travel in a time machine to the past or future?
- Would you rather give up your phone or tv for a week?
If the person you are talking to has kids asking questions about them is typically a HUGE hit! It truly is an ideal topic to talk about with parents!
Even if you don’t have kids everyone likes talking about their own so let them!
- Do you have kids?
- How many kids do you have?
- How old are your kids?
- What activities do you like to do with your kids?
- What is your biggest struggle as a parent? (only ask this if you’re having a serious conversation)
- What do you like least about being a parent? (this one should also be reserved for serious situations)
- What parent playgroups do you belong to?
- What do you like most about being a parent?
- What activities do your kids like most?
- Where do your kids go to school?
- Where is the last place you traveled with your kids?
Most people love the holidays so it’s usually a fun topic to talk about, particularly if you’re at a holiday party.
NOTE: the holidays can elicit a strong emotional reaction for various reasons so use your best judgment!
- What is your favorite holiday?
- What do you like most about that holiday?
- Do you decorate for the holidays?
- What is your favorite childhood memory of a holiday?
- What family traditions do you have for the holidays?
- What special foods do you cook on your favorite holiday?
- What is your favorite holiday movie?
- What is your favorite holiday song?
- What is the best gift you ever received?
- What is the best costume you ever wore?
11. Deep topics
These questions should only be used in a private, more serious situation. Don’t use them out of desperation to rid yourself of awkward silence.
- What is your biggest struggle?
- What is the hardest thing you’ve been through?
- If you had one week left to live what would you do with your time?
- What is your biggest regret?
- What do you think people would say in your eulogy?
- What do you think happens to us when we die?
- What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?
- What will you regret not having done if you were to die tomorrow?
- What do you think the purpose or meaning of life is?
- What is something nobody knows about you?
12. Current affairs
A current affair CAN be a great topic to talk about. However, you must be mindful of who are you talking to and the overall situation because they can be hot button topics!
- Did you hear about ________________ (fill in the blank with the current event)
- How do you feel about ______________ (fill in the blank with a current affair)
- What media outlet do you use to find out about the latest news?
- Are there media outlets you don’t trust?
- What current affairs are important to you?
- What is your opinion on _______________(fill in the blank with current affair)
- How does ____________ (current affair) affect you?
- What _____________ (current affair) are you most worried about?
- What is the most exciting current event you’ve heard about recently?
- What do you think this current event will look like in the future?
This lighthearted topic is perfect to talk about with anyone! People like talking about fun and enjoyable experiences so ask away!
This topic is also helpful to find out what you have in common with someone.
- What is your all-time favorite movie?
- What is the last movie you saw in the theatre?
- What kind of music do you like?
- What is your favorite band?
- What is the last concert you attended?
- What is the best concert you’ve attended?
- What is your favorite book?
- What book genre do you like most?
- What is the last show you binge-watched?
- What is your favorite podcast?
Travel is a fun topic to talk about. Even when you ask someone about their worst vacation it’s usually comical.
It’s a total slam dunk if you find out you’ve visited the same place because it gives you something to bond over!
- Where is the last place you traveled?
- Where is your favorite place to travel?
- Do you like to travel alone or with people?
- What is your favorite vacation thus far?
- What is the worst vacation you’ve been on?
- If you could have an all-expenses-paid trip anywhere where would it be?
- Would you rather go on a relaxing or adventure-packed vacation?
- What upcoming trips do you have planned?
- What would be your dream vacation?
- Where would you like to visit next?
- When on vacation do you like to mingle with the locals?
15. Characteristics and traits
This is a great topic when you want to know someone better, such as a romantic interest. There’s no point in continuing to date someone if the answers to the following questions make you cringe.
These topics are also helpful if you’re interviewing a potential roommate. If you’re dissatisfied or concerned about the answers you receive it’s definitely not a good fit to be your roomy!
- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
- Are you a night owl or early riser?
- When you’re having a bad day how do you turn it around?
- What makes you feel happy?
- What makes you feel angry?
- Do you consider yourself to be an honest person?
- What’s your guilty pleasure?
- How do you deal with issues when they arise?
- How do you feel about stepping out of your comfort zone?
- Are you the type of person who sees the glass as half-full or half-empty?
Values can be an interesting topic to talk about when trying to get to know someone well. People like discussing their values because they get to talk about their beliefs.
Be open-minded about the responses you receive and put thought into your follow-up questions.
- What are your top 3 values?
- What values do you look for in a friend?
- What values do you look for in a significant other?
- What are some characteristics you disapprove of in others?
- What does that reveal about your values?
- How do your values show up in your decision making and behavior?
- Who is someone you admire because of their values?
- What are some things you do to take care of your physical health?
- What are some things you do to take care of your mental health?
- What are your career goals?
17. Topics for a date or with your crush
The following are perfect topics to talk about with your crush or on a date because they are fun and easy!
- What do you think about _______________ (current event – make sure it’s a somewhat light-hearted event!)
- What are your top goals?
- What are your hobbies?
- What does an ideal weekend look like to you?
- What is your favorite restaurant in the city?
- Where did you grow up?
- What’s your favorite movie?
- Where is the most interesting place you’ve traveled to?
- What are your closet friends like?
- What’s your relationship like with your family?
People bond when sharing about their current and former relationships making it a good topic to talk about
- Have you ever been in love?
- Are you dating/married to anyone now?
- How did you meet your current partner?
- How do you feel about using online dating apps?
- How do you feel about dating someone you work with?
- What’s the longest relationship you’ve ever had?
- Why did you break up?
- What’s the best date you’ve ever been on?
- What’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?
- What qualities does would your ideal partner have?
Habits may not always be a fun topic to talk about but they usually make for interesting conversation. Surprisingly, most people like talking about their habits (good and bad!). It’s a great topic to bond over!
For example, when people talk about habits they’d like to break they’re being vulnerable and vulnerability often leads to a connection (especially if it’s a habit you’d like to drop too!).
If you share a good habit, that’s also helpful! Having something in common is a perfect way for a conversation to flow naturally and continue.
- What is your best habit?
- What habits would you like to start?
- What habits would you like to drop?
- How do you plan to drop those habits?
- What habit do you struggle with the most?
- What bad habits have you successfully changed?
- How did you stop those habits?
- What are some habits other people have that bother you the most?
- What habits of other people do you most admire?
- How do you think habits are started?
20. Funny/light-hearted topics
These simple questions usually result in a good belly laugh. Not only is laughter the best medicine it’s a way to connect! People will leave the conversation thinking about what a good time they had with you.
- What’s the funniest joke you’ve ever heard?
- If your pet could talk what do you think they’d say to you?
- What’s the most humiliating fashion trend you’ve ever followed?
- What’s the funniest dance move you know?
- If you could have dinner with someone famous who would you pick?
- What is an embarrassing guilty pleasure you have?
- What is the weirdest item you own?
- If you had the power to read one person’s mind who would you pick and why?
- If you had the power to make yourself invisible what would you use that power to do?
- What is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
There you are, my friend! Enjoy your next outing with more confidence!
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Until next time,