Conversation Starters for When You Just Don't Know What to Say

"And I've noticed something I really need to work on..." His text read. 

"What?" I was worried. 

"Small talk." 

That's all? What a relief. 

"Feels awkward?"

"Sorta, yea... I've gotten so comfortable being by myself that in communal settings sometime I forget to be fully engaged socially. And since I don't watch tv I have nothing really in common to talk about with the everyday person." 

"Try asking questions like this: How was your week? Give me a few of your highs and a lessons you learned about yourself.... What's up with you? Listening to any thing new in music? ... What are you reading lately? ...Those should help. I suck at small talk too. But I started writing a list of small talk questions to help me."

"Seriously thanks! I be stuck."

"Yup.. Make a little list. You'll feel better about it. I know exactly how you feel. Trust me."

"Yeah I'm gonna practice that."

"Introverts. Plus OCD. We have to pre-think everything."

"Omg!!! People don't know the struggle!"


Truth is, I am just like my brother. I don't do well with small talk. Put a big idea, provocative question, or challenging concept on the table and I'm all the way in. But small talk can feel awkward and disingenuous.  I spend a lot of time in my own space. Or in public spaces, by myself. Ironically, I found that I have the most enriching conversations with total strangers, but when it comes to my own home-base network of loved ones - it can feel so weird because of the latency between our discussions or interactions. 

I came up with a list of questions to help myself when it feels like the conversation is forced or worse than that, totally dragging. It's been working for me.

"How was your week? Give me a few of your highs and a lessons you learned about yourself."

"What's up with you? Listening to any thing new in music?" 

"What are you reading lately?"

"If you could re-do anything this week, what would it be?"

"How's your family?"

"Got anything special coming up?"

"Seen any movies lately?"

"Did you see the moon last night?"

My brother and I are both introverts with slight OCD. So we have pre-think everything. It's either this or feel a sickening case of social anxiety. Why make myself feel that when I can be proactive?



  1. Yes! I too can relate! I feel like I am an introvert with extrovert qualities at times (mostly when I'm in an environment that fits my 'niche').

    feel like this isn't discussed as much it should be! Thank you for touching on that! & Thank you for the pointers!

    Ms. Clay I saw your interview with a good from of mine Phil Taitt! I just wanted to say how proud I am of you! I wish I had teachers like you growing up. What you're doing is inspiring! Keep continuing to educate and being great, Queens!


  2. This is so relatable for me as a fellow introvert. I've been given advice on generic things to bring up in conversation, but it is a struggle when those things just aren't relevant to my orientation at the time of the interaction. Never though about writing a list, but I will certainly start doing so. Thank you!


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