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Rules for Life

Hate awkward silence? Small Talk like a Pro.

You could be in a profession that requires you to talk with strangers. Maybe there’s an upcoming event at your in-laws and you don’t know what to talk with them about. It’s possible you avoid social functions because you never know what to say. At some point, all of us absolutely dread having to deal with awkward silence in social interactions, and without proper preparation you risk making a bad impression.

So, how do you fill that conversational gap when there isn’t any real chemistry with the person you’re speaking with? Today’s your lucky day, because your big bro is here to help. These may seem like “canned” lines, but in reality think of these questions as icebreakers to help you ignite interesting conversations with even the most boring of strangers.

1. What’s the last book you read? Would you recommend it?

2. What charities do you support? (Be careful with this one, as you’ll want to avoid political discussions with strangers)

3. What was your first job?

4. What animal best represents who you are?

5. What’s your best party trick? Any other hidden talents?

6. How did you get into your field of work?

7. What’s the best restaurant in your neighborhood?

8. What’s the most exotic food you’ve ever tried?

9. Which item on your bucket list will be the easiest to tackle? The most difficult?

10. What’s the best thing you’ve ever bought at a thrift shop/flea market/yard sale?

11. Would you rather explore a new city or relax on the beach when you go on vacation?

12. If you could have any superpower, what would you pick?

13. What’s your guilty pleasure TV show/musical artist/movie?

14. What is your favorite city in the world?

15. How did you choose your major in college?

16. When you were younger, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

17. What was your first car? What do you use for transportation now?

18. How do you unwind after a long day?

19. What are your top three favorite movies?

20. What’s the most unbelievable-but-true thing that’s ever happened to you?

21. Do you follow the zodiac? Do you think your sign represents you?

22. If you had a free round-trip airplane ticket to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

23. What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen?

24. Who in your life would you choose to be your partner in a zombie apocalypse?

25. What’s your go-to meal if you want to impress a dinner guest?

26. Who is on your Mount Rushmore of music artists?

27. What’s the best advice anyone has ever given to you?

28. What musical act are you dying to see live?

29. What was your senior quote in your high school yearbook?

30. Do you take any classes or practice a particular hobby? Would you like to?

Once you’ve gotten familiar with the small talk questions you want to use at your next party or social event, practice your delivery. With a wide variety of questions that you can ask confidently, you’ll be talking it up in no time at all.

It’s also beneficial to rehearse how you’ll make your exit from the conversation. You don’t want to leave someone feeling awkward because you didn’t know how to properly say goodbye. So, learn to excuse yourself politely and end things on a high note.

Last but not least, always learn the name of the person you’re speaking with and use it the next time you see them. It adds personalization to your interaction, and shows you’ve been listening to them. There’s a difference between listening and hearing, and relationships are formed only when you’re actually listening to what someone has to say.

Now get out there and mix it up with lots of strangers. Practice makes perfect!

– Your Big Bro