Football’s back. But, truth be told, you’re not all that excited. While all your co-workers are talking about their fantasy football leagues, you’re sidelined because you simply don’t care.
Or, maybe it’s not football that everyone’s talking about. Maybe it’s a TV show, or an upcoming event in your city, or any number of things that everyone cares about more than you.
Here’s the good news: You’re not alone. According to a survey from CareerBuilder, four out of 10 office workers feel like they don’t fit in.
Here’s the better news: You can change that today. Here are a few topics that are so general, they ensure you’ll find common ground with someone at the office.
Bring Up Pop Culture
Even if you’ve never seen Game of Thrones, you’ve surely spent time nodding along politely when people talk about it. Rather than sit the next conversation out, bring up a show you like. Or, if that seems too risky (or not you because you don’t have cable), ask a broader, more general question.
“I’m thinking of getting Netflix. What’s the first thing I should add to my queue?”
“I need a new show to binge on. Got any recommendations?”
“My favorite part of football season is the snacks. Does anyone have an amazing dip recipe?”
“Where’s the best place to listen to live music around here?”
“I’m looking for some new music for my workout playlist. Got any recommendations?”
Bring Up Yourself
One of the best ways to find common ground (and real friends at work) is to just be yourself. Seriously, let your freak flag fly. Assuming, of course, that your freak flag’s completely SFW and doesn’t involve anything that would make HR take note.
So, stop trying to be cool and just be real—especially when it comes to things that everyone can relate to:
“Anyone else spend every morning counting down the seconds until it’s acceptable to eat lunch?”
“I have to make a confession: I can’t seem to spell ‘Wednesday’ without saying ‘Wed-nes-day’ in my head.”
“I know it’s cliché, but I’m just obsessed with that lemon pound cake from Starbucks. Anyone in the mood for a slice?”
“No matter how well I sleep, I can’t seem to keep my eyes open come 4 PM. Either I’m an infant who needs a midday nap, or there really is something to those circadian rhythms.”
“I’d give anything to have my Rainbow Brite lunchbox back, instead of this boring brown bag.”
Bring Up What You Most Definitely Have in Common
No matter who you are and what you do—you have two things in common with everyone you work with. You eat and you commute, occasionally at the same time. While they feel like humdrum topics, they are two easy go-tos when you need to break ground.
“What’s your favorite lunch place around here?”
“Where do you come in from?”
“I’m sick of my playlists. Do you listen to anything on your way in—audio books, podcasts, amazing new music? Any recommendations?”
“Do you know any way to avoid that mess of construction on Main Street?”
“What’s a good place to grab drinks around here with a friend?”
Bring Up Office Life
If all else fails, there’s one thing you and your colleagues have in common: the office. Yeah, it’s about as original as talking about the weather, but you’re the only people in the world who get the hilarious (and frustrating) ins and outs of working in your office.
“What’s up with the strange smell coming from the microwave?”
“How awesome is that new nap room?”
“Tell me I’m not the only one who’s gotten stuck on the third elevator and almost had a panic attack?”
“Hey, what’s your favorite trick for finding good parking around here?”
“How do you think our boss would take it if I suggested fall Fridays, and also winter and spring Fridays?”
Have even more small talk office prompts? Tweet them to me.