Americans love making small talk. They’re the masters at it. I know it doesn’t come easy to immigrants who are still getting used to this American culture. But with practice, you’ll get a hang of it. Also, you have to be mindful of the topics that are sensitive and borderline controversial. Over the years, I’ve kinda made a note of all the topics that make great small talk material which is both engaging and non-offensive. So, here’s my list of top 8 American-friendly small talk topics in no particular order-
“It’s such a beautiful day”
“The rain created havoc to my herb garden”
“Prepare for the hurricane ya’ll”
“Fall season is my favorite”
If you’ve heard any of the above in-person, on TV or from an Instagram Influencer – you know people in the US love to discuss weather. I always wondered what’s the big deal! But you’ll slowly realize how grateful people are for good weather. A beautiful day for Americans might be hot AF for Desis. A snowy day might be messy for us. A rainy day might add to the traffic. But it’s very rare to find Americans cursing the weather. They always find beauty in it and you’ll slowly begin to appreciate that 🙂
“Any fun plans for the weekend?” or “Did anything fun over the weekend?”
If you’re meeting someone on Friday or Monday – there’s only one question you gotta ask. Foolproof conversation starter that can lead to various topics. Locals here, love to plan their weekends and get stuff done. It’s very common to find most people spending their weekend on household chores with family and doing outdoor activities. They’ll always have something fun to share which you can pick and continue to talk about. I’ve got some great suggestions just by asking this one question 🙂
“So what do you do for work?”
One of the most common ice breaker questions that can lead to discovering something similar or totally opposite of what you do. I’m usually excited to talk to like-minded professionals or people with side hustles and passion projects. But, if you find yourself in a situation where that person’s profession does not spark any interest to you, it’s time to switch topics or be prepared to get bored to death. I’ve learned this after being stuck listening to an old professor talk about Biochemistry and another time listening to two IT professionals talk about system integration and languages that didn’t sound English to me.
“What’s your favorite restaurant in the area?” or “Tried that new Italian place few blocks away?”
Foodies or not, people love going out for date nights, happy hours and family dinners. This is one of my favorite topics to talk about because I’m constantly looking to try new cuisines and restaurants. And you never know, if you hit it off with this person, you can catch up for coffee next time at a highly recommended spot or grab a bite with the spouses together. Food connects anyone and everyone, right?
“What are you doing for Superbowl?” or “Would be interested in catching a game of cricket?”
If there’s one sport Americans religiously watch is Football. Not the football game you know of. This is the American football. It’s a little different but still fun. Hey, don’t make that face! You don’t have to like or be interested in sports at all. As long you’re aware which 2 teams are playing and roughly have an idea about the game, you’ll be fine. And the best part is you’ll be invited to Superbowl parties and potlucks and meet more people! Likewise, if you think you have an upper hand in a particular game, you can invite them to join you or watch a game together. People are usually intrigued and want to learn more.
Travel and Holidays
“So, are you in town during Christmas?” or “Any plans for the summer holidays?”
If you’ve observed, people here love to plan their holidays and long weekends. This could involve taking road trips with the family, going camping, theme park, cruise or maybe it’s travelling for work. If not, the concept of staycation is also popular these days. You’ll hit up the local spots in the city and chill with your family and friends doing a barbeque cookout or hosting potlucks. If you’re in luck, you might get invited to a local party or if you discover you’ve both been to common place (bucketlist!), they’d love to share their travel stories with you 🙂
“Watch any interesting movies or tv shows on lately?”
There are very few people who don’t enjoy watching movies, sitcoms, or Netflix. And this is definitely one trending topic. If you don’t find any other topic, this is a fun one. You can talk about the new shows or reminisce about the classic old shows. Feel free to add notes to your phone because you might get a list of recommendations.
“Hi, I’m new to the area, have you been here long enough?”
If you’re new to the city and community, this is a great opportunity to chat about the area. Locals take great pride in their community and are always involved in community related/volunteer/non profit activities. They will have tons to share with you if you’re looking for help and assistance, they would be happy to advise or refer you to the right people. And it would be best to refrain from bad mouthing the community if you really want to make connections 🙂