Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking, especially if your role is hybrid or fully remote. Even if you are in the office full-time, there’s a lot of uncertainty that comes with a new job. You’ll encounter new responsibilities, a new environment, and new people. To help with the transition, you’ll want to start building good rapport with your teammates. You’ll be interacting with them quite a bit, and having a good relationship with them will make your workday easier and more enjoyable. But how do you come up with more interesting topics to talk about than the weather? Should you find yourself stuck on how to best spark a conversation with a new colleague, consider these easy and effective conversation starters for both virtual and in-person interactions!
Asking for help is the easiest way to get talking at work and a great way to show you’re invested in learning the business. It also shows a level of trust in your coworker’s knowledge. Chances are you’ll need help in a new job anyway, so why not use it as a way to start getting to know those around you?
Even while you’re still in the learning process, you can offer to assist your teammates with their work during your downtime. Should someone accept, you can begin talking about the project at hand, but if they decline, you can still ask about the project to get a feel for what others are working on and other team priorities.
On Mondays or Fridays, ask about the weekend. This is a simple and common enough question that can help you get to know your new colleagues on a more personal level.
Movies, sports, and television are conversation starters, and if you find common ground, they’ll provide opportunities for future conversations. Just be sure to keep conversations appropriate for work.
Likewise, talk about appropriate current events. If you have a newspaper with you from your commute in to work, ask if anyone’s heard about a recent story and pass it around to anybody who might be interested.
Industry news is another, more focused source of conversation. Stay up-to-date on topics relevant to your industry and your team. Inevitably, you should find something that will initiate a great conversation with one or more of your coworkers, and could learn something in the process.
Asking about places to eat or where employees go for fun are great conversation starters if you are working in the office. Oftentimes, a group of coworkers will go out together and talk over lunch, or they may have a favorite place to recommend. Some may even offer to go with you! While it may seem intimidating at first, try to avoid sitting at your desk quietly during lunch. It’s one of the easiest times to communicate with those around you!
If you’re in the kitchen with another colleague, ask about their lunch or what flavor coffee they recommend. If you’re at the copier and someone’s waiting for you to finish, introduce yourself. You may often find that people seem relieved that you broke the silence and are more than willing to start a conversation. If you are working remotely, peruse your company’s Slack or Teams channels. To help build camaraderie and community among remote, hybrid, and in-person staff, many companies have dedicated channels for socializing across different departments. These are typically interest and social group related, and not strictly for work-related topics.
When working in the office and going out, ask if you can get someone something or if anyone would like to take a walk. At the very least, you’ll show that you’re thinking of your fellow coworkers. At best, one or two may join you and start a conversation on their own.
This applies to many of the above points. Asking questions that require an answer other than “yes” or “no” encourage the flow of conversation and prevent awkward silences. They’re often more interesting and facilitate more effective communication.
Remember, when using any of these conversation starters or any of your own, always keep the topics work appropriate and avoid gossip. It may be easier to get involved in the social politics of the office than coming up with your own icebreakers, but don’t do it. Gossip is dangerous and can lose you respect quickly. Instead, stay positive, show interest, and be friendly. If you make an effort, you’ll often find that many others are willing to do the same.
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