Small talk and surface-level conversations are commonplace, but dialogue with depth and transparency are rare. All humans desire to be known, and deep conversations can breed vulnerability and closeness. Maybe you know to steer clear of politics or religion as conversation starters, but you still don’t know where to begin.
Calm your nerves by focusing on bringing the best version of yourself to every conversation. Above all, take genuine interest in the people around you. Here are seven conversation starters for more meaningful conversations.
This might feel like a broad and deep topic to list as a conversation starter, but people like to talk about themselves. Everyone has a story, and until you ask questions, the person across from you is essentially a stranger. Ask them where they are from and where they grew up. If they are not natives of the city or state, ask what brought them to where they are now. Ask them about themselves. People tend to like to share about who they are and where they come from.
Whether it’s remote or in-person, everyone has a job. There’s so many unique industries, and within each industry, there is a diversity of types of roles. Get curious and lean in to ask questions about their career. You might find a shared experience or interest. You may even make a networking connection.
This is separate from the career conversation because not every job is a passion. Ask them about what they’re passionate about and what brings them joy. It could be travel, literature, art or music. Dive deep into their interests and share if you have any of the same interests. This will be a great connection point and an opportunity to generate genuine conversation.
Most people have traditions and habits from their upbringing. Ask questions about family traditions and memories. You can break the ice and find common ground about common traditions and share your own family memories.
Books, Podcasts and TV Shows
One easy topic to breach is pop culture. Ask which, if any, books, podcasts, TV shows they’re loving right now. If you’ve not heard of it, that’s a perfect opportunity to lean in and learn more about it. You can also share what you’re reading, listening to, or watching.
One great conversation starter is to ask about plans and goals for the future. Maybe someone has travel plans, dreams to start a business, or a bucket list activity to cross off. Take an interest in what they are looking forward to in the future.
A fun and easy conversation starter that can lead into deeper conversations is a “what if” question. These are open-ended questions that explore possibilities on a grand scale. For example, if you could go back in time, is there anything you’d do differently? If you could swap lives with a celebrity for a day, who would it be? If you could try out another career, what would it be? These conversations are creative and allow you to go deep into fun and outlandish possibilities.