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What Not to Bring Up In Small Talk and Why

June 7, 2022

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It can sometimes be confusing when you’re determining the best subjects to bring up in small talk. If you aren’t especially skilled in the art of small talk, you may accidentally crack the wrong joke or ask the wrong question, creating a burdensome feeling within the conversation. Small talk is a great way to display your inner sense of confidence and your ability to identify common factors between you and the people around you, and you can use it to lightly get to know people. 

Common Topics for Small Talk: What to Avoid

Let’s take a look at some of the things you probably should not bring up in any kind of small talk. When you’re standing in an elevator with a stranger from your workplace, there are some things you just don’t want to think about–and that goes for most everyone in the office. 

Sensitive Subjects

It is likely not a good idea to talk about things that may trigger an emotional upset. If something unpleasant has recently happened in the office, like someone quitting in an emotional outburst, avoid it. Anything that could potentially have an offensive undertone can be considered a sensitive subject, and it would be best to steer clear.

Past Trauma

Everyone has been through their fair share of hardship. If the small talk begins to touch on a topic that reminds you of the wrong that others have done to you, keep it in your mind. If you begin oversharing in a professional environment, you may reveal details about yourself that others should not know. Worse, even, you might come off as emotionally unstable, which is the opposite of what an administrative assistant should be.

Religion

This is one of the most dangerous topics to any jovial small-talking conversation. Sure, if the person agrees with your perspectives, you would get along just fine. However, if their views are vastly different from your own, this small opportunity to bond with someone turns into a reason to distrust them. That’s never good for workplace amicability. Keep this topic out of the simple conversations, and save it for intentionally open debates with family or friends.

Jokes

While it can be tempting to be an everyday comedian, you never know what the other person’s sense of humor is. In the best case scenario, you get a chuckle, but in the worst, you make an enemy. If you tell an offensive joke without realizing it, you will likely dampen positive energies with that person, and people don’t quickly forget things like that. Keep it light and jovial without cracking a joke, and avoid this mishap altogether. 

Small Talk Questions: What to Say

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s take a look at some things that you can ask people to jog a conversation. There are plenty of wonderful questions that can help you get to know your peers without stepping on any dangerous topics

How is your day going?

Opening up a conversation just by checking in about the day can be a simple way to show interest without being invasive. It’s a lot like “how are you?” but it is a little more personable. People will usually say the day is going well, and they’re likely to be grateful you asked.

Wonderful weather we’re having, isn’t it?

Of course, the classic thing to note for small talk is the weather! As we are all under the same sky, it unites us, and allows us to bond over the unique conditions. When it’s a beautifully blue-skied, sunny day, mentioning it will likely get a great response without bringing up anything touchy.


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