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introverts, small talk, conversation starters
via Pexels

People chatting at a party.

A lot of people feel uncomfortable starting up conversations with strangers in social settings. It’s not that they don’t want to meet people, they’re just not sure what to say.

There's an art to small talk and some people are incredibly at ease starting up a conversation and coming up with things to say. They know how to get things moving without being obvious and seem to do this effortlessly.

A Reddit user named Blugged Bunny asked the online forum “What is your go-to 'small talk' topic with strangers?” and although the question may not have intentionally been to help introverts, there were a lot of great suggestions for people who are uncomfortable making small talk.


It seems the best ideas are questions and statements that are about the current setting and situation. The truly great small talk artists know that the best way into a conversation is to allow the other person to talk about themselves.

It’s also helpful to bring up topics that everyone can speak to whether that’s family, pets, weather, sports or articles of clothing. I once knew a guy who was single and whenever he went out he wore a “Livestrong” bracelet that he got from Lance Armstrong’s cancer charity. He told me that it “Gives women an easy conversation-starter if they want to talk to me. They’ll ask, 'Why are you wearing that? Isn’t Lance Armstrong, a cheater?'" That would begin a great debate over whether Armstrong was such a bad guy, after all he’s done for people with cancer.

Here are 14 of the best go-to small talk topics from the Reddit thread.

1. 

"Make an observation. Literally anything. It helps if it’s something about them like an article of clothing that catches your eye, something they’re doing, anything that you can relate to or are interested in but it doesn’t have to be. It can be something in the environment that is drawing both of your attention. People bullshit about the weather all the time. Once you’ve got something to work with, the key is to ask. ... Let them do the talking. People love talking about themselves. You learn some light-hearted things about the stranger, they feel more comfortable, and you can add bits and bobs of your own experiences in response so they get to know you too. It works in literally any situation. From an elevator ride to a first date. It’s so easy to personalize small talk and it makes it so much less uncomfortable." — arrocknroll.

2. 

"Have you ever tried Ayahuasca?" — KarmicBreath

This comment kicked off a funny response from Sinsaraly:

"Love this. My friend once spent a few hours in a car with poet Allen Ginsberg. The very first thing he said to her was “what drugs do you do?”

3. 

"The weather is a good one. everyone shares it. I'm a guy and i do not give one shit about professional sports or cars and it's like a social disability." — Mr_Mojo_Risin

4. 

Hobbies. "Pretty much everyone has something they're either super passionate about or really rather good at, so a conversation about hobbies pretty much always moves from 'small talk' to 'genuine interest' pretty damn fast." — Trashpanda692

5.

"Something in our environment that we can both relate to. You have to make it easy for them to give a response. Mild humour usually works as it is light-hearted and unthreatening." — ScallywagsTV2

6.

"Usually people love to talk about themselves, so a few questions about them and some follow up questions to their answers usually does it." — I_Can_See_The_Music

7.

"I try to think of random things. Like a favorite animal or star, talking about something in the room. Usually is stupid dad jokes." — UncreativeGlory

8. 

"I try to come up with questions regarding the situations we are in. Like, 'Hey you know any good place around here to get a decent meal?"' — Chromerix

9. 

"Food. People typically love food. I mention I’m new/newer to an area. And ask them what they like, where they eat out. Usually works and people have their choices validated and I always know where to find good local snacks." — TheProfWife

10. 

"If it’s a woman, I’d compliment them on something I like (bag/shoes/makeup/a book they’re reading) and then try to find common ground for there. For men, I’d try something neutral so it doesn’t seem like I’m trying to hit on them. Perhaps weekend plans, work etc." — llovejoy1234

11. 


"Biggest animal you think you could take in a fight." — RizziJoy

12. 

​"I usually bring up home renovations. Especially if the small talk confined us to a space for quite some time. Like a wedding, business conference etc. I can always find people who are not only working on different parts of their homes, but enjoy talking about them. Learned a thing or two along the line as well!" — Calm-Ad

13. 

"Did you ever hear the Tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise?" — HowToDoNot

14. 

"F.O.R.D. Family/Occupation/Recreation/Dreams

Family: Do they have kids? If so, people love to talk about their kids. How many, what ages, what grades are they in in school? If they are older (High School/College) what are they studying? Do they play sports/music? If family is not a comfortable subject (you don't feel like asking about spouse and kids and such) then move on to Occupation
Occupation: What do they do for a living? How long? Do they like it? Did they go to school for it? How did they get into it?
Recreation: What do they like to do in their free time? Hobbies? What sports do they like to watch? Do they play any sports? Do they do anything active? Do they do anything artistic or musical?

Dreams: What are they currently looking forward to in life? Is there a big vacation coming up? Are the kids graduating from School? Are they training for a major athletic event (marathon or some other competition)?

This is usually my go-to when making small talk and it's usually enough to get me to some sort of common ground that our conversation can build off organically." — khamylion

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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