3 conversation topics to help you break the silence
It’s your third day at your new job, you step in the elevator on your way up to the office and your boss walks in right after you… what now? You don’t have an amazing 30-second elevator pitch to pull out of your back pocket, so instead you stand in silence until you reach your floor.
You definitely didn’t leave a great impression on your boss – you didn’t leave a bad one either – you just left no impression at all. Don’t be afraid to break the silence. By starting a short and easy conversation, you are establishing your presence and demonstrating your social skills.
One of the most important soft skills that employers find in successful candidates is effective and professional social skills.
If you aren’t confident in your social skills or you’re absolutely terrible at thinking on-the-spot, we’ve got three fail-safe conversation starters that will help you break the silence.
1. The Weather
I truly believe that this is everyone’s go-to conversation topic in all social situations. I talk to my hairdresser about the weather as they cut my hair, I discuss the weather while catching up with friends, and I definitely mention the weather with my colleagues. Although it is a blatantly obvious conversation starter, it always works!
If the weather conditions are extreme or abnormal, the go-to line is “can you believe this weather?”
However, you can even make a comment if the weather is absolutely perfect outside with a line like, “isn’t this weather amazing, I wish it was like this all year.”
If it seems simple and easy, that’s because it is.
2. The News
There is always something happening in the news. Always. Whether it is local, national, or international, there is definitely a story that everyone has at least heard about. However, the news can be a tricky topic because you also want to avoid any topics where your boss may be on the opposing side of an argument. So our recommendation, stick with natural disasters if you can.
Everyone thinks a natural disaster is terrible and unfortunate, whether it’s a flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, etc. If you’re really at a loss, let’s hope that your building has a news screen playing in the elevator. Glance up at the screen as soon as you enter, take a look at what’s going on in the world, and cue your conversation.
When all else fails, take a look at your boss’s outfit and pick an item that you like. There is a thin line between offering a friendly compliment and blatantly sucking up to a superior, so be wary if you choose this conversation starter. Also, make sure the conversation can be extended past a “thank you”, by following up with a question or statement.
“That leather briefcase looks great, I’ve been searching for one that colour, where did you find it if you don’t mind me asking?”
You’ve offered a compliment, made a statement and followed up with a question. Now your boss will have to reply with more than just a “thank you”, and the conversation doors have opened.
A conversation like this one in the elevator only has to last about 30 seconds. These tactics can also be used for lunchroom conversations, coffee break conversations, water cooler conversations, and a variety of other professional and social settings.
We haven’t reinvented the wheel here – these are definitely obvious options. However 9 times out of 10, we are all standing in a silent elevator. So it’s time to keep a mental list of these conversation topics so you can pull them out and show everyone that you’re the social butterfly of the office.
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