Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking for a variety of reasons, but the quickest way to get comfortable and start settling in is to get know your new coworkers. You’ll be seeing 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:
Ask for help
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?
Offer to help
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 around the office.
Ask about the weekend
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.
Discuss popular culture
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.
Bring up current events
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.
Keep your pulse on industry news
Industry news is another, more focused source of conversation. Stay up-to-date on topics relevant to your industry and your department. 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.
Learn more about the area
Asking about places to eat or where employees go for fun are great conversation starters. Oftentimes, a group of coworkers will go out together and talk over lunch, or they may have a favorite place to recommend and some may offer to go with you. While it may seem intimidating at first, try to avoid sitting at your desk quietly during lunch. It’s the easiest, and most appropriate, time to communicate with those around you!
Use your surroundings
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, let them know that you’ll just be a few moments more and ask if they need it immediately. You may often find that people seem relieved that you broke the silence and are more than willing to start a conversation.
Ask others to join you
When 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.
Ask open-ended questions
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.