What is Everyone Talking About? ‘Small Talk’ at Work

Do you worry about what to talk to coworkers about during work breaks? Does it seem like everyone is good at making small talk but you don’t know to be a part of those conversations?

Part of having casual conversations is your level of comfort in the workplace. If you like your coworkers it’s easier to talk with them about TV shows, your family or your hobbies. When you don’t feel you have a lot in common with the people you work with, it can be harder to find things to talk about.

In these situations, it is extremely helpful for you to have general knowledge and a basic understand of what is happening in the world in order to carry on a conversation.

  • Read news headlines or listen to the radio to keep up with local and world news. Chose 2-3 TV newscasts, podcasts, newspapers or blogs to get detailed information from several times a week.
  • Watching late night talk shows and satirical news commentators (Samantha Bee, John Oliver, etc.) will also give you an overview — although very biased and often fictionalized — of current events.

How to Do ‘Small Talk’

Starting a conversation with someone you don’t know is easier for some than others. We all have different personalities and act differently in the workplace because of it.

Don’t focus on impressing people or set goals for the conversation. Just talk with your coworkers, potential business contacts, or industry leaders as if they were … people.

Not every conversation will begin a beautiful work friendship, but each time you engage in small talk at work you are building on those relationships with your colleagues, supervisors and customers.

People say it’s silly to start a conversation by talking about the weather, however, the weather is a topic that everyone either knows about or are interested in a forecast. Also, talking about the weather is something most people can understand, have an opinion about, and it’s usually not a controversial topic. Tip: How to Start a Conversation: DON’T Talk About Weather

Topics to Avoid

Working in a store, restaurant, office, warehouse, lab or other setting where you have fun and friendly coworkers is the best! Colleagues that support and understand you can improve your work performance and job satisfaction. Those friendships could also get you into trouble.

Remember that when you are at work all conversations you have, including those with your friends, need to fit within your company’s rules and policies. Do not talk about things that might be disrespectful or mean to other colleagues or customers. You also do not want to share too much of your personal information at work. Save those conversations for after work and the weekends.

What NOT to Talk About at Work

  • Religion and spirituality
  • Politics, your opinions of political figures
  • Money problems or how much money you make
  • Your health or the health of people close to you
  • Relationship problems, family issues

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