When you’re meeting several new faces at once, it can be easy to feel a little overwhelmed and not know exactly where to start conversationally. Conversation starters can help you break the ice and find your footing in new social situations and potentially even initiate new friendships with those around you. Here’s a look at conversation starters you can use to help you get to know other residents of your community.
Everyone you meet has a treasure trove of memories and stories associated with where they grew up, where they went to college, where they bought their first house and where they started their career. Asking something as simple as “Where are you from?” is an excellent gateway question to open somebody up and get to know their background better. You may be surprised by some answers you get, and you may find you have something in common with your neighbors that you didn’t know before.
Pets often play a huge role in the lives of their owners. As a source of affection and companionship for many older adults entering retirement, pets are a topic many people love talking about. Asking what kind of pet they care for, the pet’s name and breed, and what they enjoy doing with their pet may be a great way to spark an engaging interaction with a fellow member of your community.
This can be an especially fun way to kick off a conversation, because you never know what the answer might be. Maybe your neighbor is the craftsy type and loves spending their day pursuing new art projects or creative endeavors like painting or writing. Are you a big reader or film fanatic? You might find someone else who shares these passions as well, or perhaps you’ll find a fun companion to go for evening walks with.
If you’re new to a particular gathering or social event, don’t feel anxious or intimidated! Everyone you see there was also a newcomer once upon a time. Reach out to those around you and ask how long they’ve been involved in this, how it has enriched their time in the community and what their favorite part is. Asking questions like this may help you feel out a new social situation a little faster and make connections with people you may never have expected to.
If you’re a parent or grandparent, you probably love talking about them with others and sharing accomplishments and funny memories. Sometimes, talking about something familiar, comforting and close to the heart like your family can ease anxiety in an unfamiliar social setting, keep you grounded and give you a chance to talk about the people you love. If you’re trying to spark a conversation with someone new, giving them the chance to do the same may help you form new friendships.
The topic of travel is always an intriguing one. There’s no limit to the stories you may hear and the characters and wonders that you may get to experience through someone else’s telling of them. Maybe your neighbor served overseas in east Asia or was stationed in Germany. Perhaps they used to be a journalist or reporter and spent years traveling across Europe. Or maybe they’ve even been rafting through the Grand Canyon or backpacking across the Rockies. This topic can be a hidden hive of stimulating conversation or bring to light funny little coincidences that bridge a gap between you and someone else.
Everyone’s childhood is unique, and it can be an excellent window into someone’s life as you try to get to know them better and continue to engage in conversation. Maybe you played with the same toys or watched the same shows your neighbor did when you were younger. You can spend an afternoon looking back and laughing about old fads and news headlines and the trends and styles of your generation.
Once you’ve begun to build a rapport with someone, you can start to get a little more creative and move beyond the small talk. Your fellow residents, much like you, have a whole lifetime of wild stories and experiences to share, ranging from places they’ve traveled to childhood memories.
At ViewPointe, we encourage our residents to interact in social situations and form meaningful relationships with one another. We take our sense of community seriously and want to foster it any time we get the opportunity. If you're a resident of our community, consider taking time to look into current clubs and activities.