Starting a conversation with someone you don't know well can be awkward, but it doesn't have to be. After you first meet someone, you may find yourself at a loss for words. However, you can remedy the situation by having some questions prepared that give both of you an opportunity to learn more about each other.
These are basic conversation starters that anyone can use. Read through them and pick several that you can remember. It's always good to be prepared.
How to Get to Know Your Boss
It’s so easy to go to work, offer a brief greeting to your boss, and go about your business for the rest of the day without saying anything else to each other. Although you don’t want to get too chummy with your supervisor, it’s still nice to learn a few things that might help you understand her better.
Remember that this is your boss you’re questioning. If at any time, she seems uncomfortable, give her some space. And don’t ask her questions in a rapid-fire manner. You don't want her to feel as though she's being interrogated. It’s best to casually fit questions into your conversation during lunch or while you're waiting for a meeting to begin.
Here are some questions you may consider asking your boss:
- What led you to this company?
- Are you from this area? If not, where did you grow up?
- Is there something I need to know about your management style to make your job easier?
- What is your favorite aspect of being a supervisor?
- Do you prefer face-to-face contact or email for work-related issues?
- What is your favorite book and why?
- What is your favorite college or professional sports team?
- What would you consider your greatest accomplishment?
- What question would you like to ask everyone you meet?
- What would you like to be remembered for?
- What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?
- What did you do your first day as a supervisor?
- What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to when you started your career?
How to Learn About Your Coworkers
Most people who go to an office are with their coworkers for longer periods of time than they are with their own family. Although you don’t want to be nosy and delve too deeply into their personal lives, it’s a good idea to get to know something about them.
Ask some of these questions to learn more about your coworkers:
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
- Do you like to hit the ground running when you first get to the office, or do you prefer easing into your day?
- What brought you to this company?
- Who would play the leading role in a movie about your life?
- What are your current career goals and why?
- If you could choose a superpower, what would it be? Why?
- What is one skill you always wish you had but haven’t acquired yet?
- Do you prefer to work on your own or on a team?
- What is the most annoying thing someone at the office can do?
- If you could go anywhere in this world without concern about cost or time, where would that be?
- What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done at work that turned out well?
How to Warm Up to Your Partner or Spouse’s Family
Most people are eager to make a good impression on their partner or spouse’s family. One of the best ways to do this is to show sincere interest in them from several angles. Some of the questions may be to learn more about them, while others will help when it comes time to purchase gifts for them.
Here are some great questions to ask your partner’s family members:
- Do you have any family traditions you’d like to continue? If so, what are they?
- How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
- If your family had a theme song, what would it be?
- What do you do for a living? How did you get into that particular field?
- Where is your favorite vacation destination?
- What is your favorite food? What is your least favorite food?
- What is your favorite color and why?
- Do you have a hobby or favorite pastime?
- What show or movie most closely resembles your family? Why?
- Do you have any pet peeves? If so, what are they?
- What is the funniest thing (your partner) did as a child?
- What is the best family vacation you’ve taken?
- If you could time-travel, would you rather go back in time and meet your ancestors or go forward and meet your great-grandchildren?
Find Out More About New Friends
One of the best ways to get to know your new friends is to ask questions. You can be as serious or as silly as you want in a casual, social setting. Just make sure you don’t bring up a controversial topic too early in the relationship, unless you’re willing to risk your new friendship.
Here are some fun questions you might ask new friends:
- What is the most embarrassing or awkward moment you’ve ever experienced?
- Do you prefer to talk about your problems or work them out by yourself?
- If you were granted one wish, what would that be?
- What is the first thing you notice about people when you meet them?
- Would you rather be famous or unknown? Why?
- What would you like for people to remember about you?
- Do you prefer living in the city or out in the country?
- What is your favorite breed of dog? Why?
- Have you ever pranked someone? What did you do and what was their reaction?
- What style of art do you like most?
- What is the best concert you've ever attended?
- If you could be a circus performer, what would your act be?
- If you could go back and relive a specific time in your life, when would that be and why?
- Would you rather go hang gliding, race car driving, or white water rafting?
- What is your best party skill?
- What is your go-to karaoke song?
- What is your favorite smell and why?
- What is something most people would never guess about you?
- What strange food combinations do you enjoy eating?
- What series do you love binge-watching?
Getting to Know Anyone
As you meet new people, whether it’s personal or through business, it’s always a good idea to have some questions that serve as conversation starters. As you learn about others, you’ll hopefully discover some things you have in common that you can enjoy together.