Does anyone actually enjoy talking about the weather? Probably not. However, when you’re talking to someone you don’t know very well, thinking of topics that are both relatable and interesting is easier said than done.
So you end up saying things like, “I heard you guys have been getting a ton of snow lately,” or “Have you been watching the Olympics?”
Unfortunately, boring conversations are the kiss of death when you’re trying to build rapport. It’s hard to feel more connected after an interaction you could've had with anyone.
But just because the weather comes up doesn’t mean the entire conversation is lost. Check out how to transform three boring topics into engaging, memorable conversations.
To instantly take a discussion of the weather in a new direction, introduce a fun fact.
Here are several fascinating ones:
- You can tell the temperature by counting a cricket’s chirps.
- A 2003 heatwave turned grapes to raisins before they were picked from the vine.
- Some tornadoes can be faster than formula one racing cars.
- In 1899, it was so cold that the Mississippi River froze over its entire length.
- In one day, a hurricane can release enough energy to supply all of the nation’s electrical needs for about six months.
- The coldest temperature ever recorded was a negative 126.9 degrees fahrenheit in Vostok Station, Antarctica.
- According to NASA, average productivity levels drop by 45% once it hits 95 degrees.
This strategy works best when you tie the fact to whatever weather you’re currently experiencing. To get an idea, check out this sample dialogue:
Jane Doe: Can you believe this crazy heat wave?
You: I know, I feel like I’m melting. I actually just learned the Eiffel Tower grows 6 inches in the summer because the temperature makes the iron expand.
You can also change the subject with an open-ended question. Here are 10 ideas:
- If you could decide the weather for a year, what would it look like?
- Where did you grow up? Was the weather very different from here?
- Would you rather be extremely cold or extremely hot -- no matter where you went or what you did?
- What’s your favorite [season] memory?
- If you could only experience one season for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
- If you had to pick one place to live based on its weather, where would you go?
- What’s your favorite way to stay [cool, warm] in the [summer, fall, winter]?
- If you could only keep one piece of gear from your current [season] wardrobe, what would it be and why?
- Do you have any crazy [hurricane, earthquake, snowstorm, tsunami, etc.] stories?
- What’s the most extreme weather you’ve ever experienced?
If you’re talking to a prospect, you’re obviously interested in the details of their job. However, when you’re chatting at a work party or getting to know someone over dinner, swapping details about your work lives can feel a little monotonous.
These lines let you switch conversational gears without making it obvious what you’re doing:
- How’d you get started on the path toward becoming a [lead gen specialist, data scientist, director of recruiting]?
- What’s the biggest misconception you had about your current [role, career] before you got started?
- Your job sounds challenging (in a good way)! Where do you go for advice or support?
- Are any of your family members in [profession]?
- In your opinion, what’s the best college major for [career]?
- In 10 years, what would your ideal title be?
- Do you have a professional role model?
Sometimes, a little boldness can be a good thing. If the other person keeps circling back to work, try saying, “You’ve seem like you’d have some interesting hobbies. What do you do when you’re not at work?”
How Tired, Stressed, or Overworked They Are
According to the American Psychological Association, 78% of adults are stressed. Separate research shows 40% don't get enough sleep. It’s no wonder that listening to someone describe how exhausted, stressed out, or busy they are can stop a conversation in its tracks.
Luckily, a two-part response can effectively get things moving again.
Step one: Sympathize with their situation. Try something along the lines of “I can imagine that would be tough,” or “I’d imagine most people would be [tired, anxious] in your place.
Step two: Subtly change the topic by asking a question.
These will come in handy:
- When you’re feeling [tired, anxious], what’s your favorite thing to do?
- If you could erase or give away one responsibility right now, what would it be?
- What’s the most relaxing and/or rejuvenating trip you’ve ever taken?
- Would you rather sleep for a solid week or hang out on a beautiful island for two days
- What’s the longest period of time you’ve gone without sleep?
- When you’ve finally wrapped up a major project, how do you typically celebrate?
Just because the conversation hits a slump doesn't mean you're stuck there. With these strategies, you can salvage even the most yawn-worthy small talk.