How many times have you crossed paths with someone in the hallway at work and casually said “alright?”. Literally what does this even mean! Are you starting a conversation with me? Simply saying hello? Genuinely asking if I’m “alright”? Lol, I have had so many awkward encounters with this exchange. It should be banned. I hate all of those generic questions that tend to be our go to conversation starters. The ones that probably make us all cringe inside, as we think why did I ask THAT?
Generally met with “yeah, alright…busy”. Because lol what else are you going to say. Will anyone really understand or care if you give them a specific run down of your week?
How are you?
I get it, this is one of our standard conversation starters. It’s easy. But how often are you met with “yeah, good you?”…and you respond…”yeah, good, you?” YOU.JUST.ASKED.
What have you been up to?
What do you want to know? If I ate chips or salad for lunch? Whether I watched Eastenders last night? I dunno, this is just a bit vague and bleurgh for me. Lame conversation, Sally.
Have you got any holidays booked?
I’m sorry, am I in the hairdressers 20 years ago? And if the answer’s no, this is such a non conversation.
Did you have a good time?
When you’ve quite clearly just been on the trip of a lifetime. No Nigel, Hawaii was really shit and I wish I never went.
The problem with these questions
They’re customary. Generally, a bit fake. People ask “how are you?” on the expectation that you will answer “yeah fine, you?”. It’s usually just a way to fill that awkward silence. Do you know what though, sometimes I’d rather just live with the awkward silence.
I’m sick of having fake ass conversations with people who couldn’t give a shit whether I am genuinely ok or not. And do you know what, maybe I don’t even want to answer that question. No more than you even wanted to ask it.
And the conversation starters that make me want to have a meaningful conversation…
Conversations don’t have to start with a question. You don’t have to fill that awkward silence with an equally awkward question. Love the skirt someone is wearing? The colour on their nails? Tell them! See if that sparks a conversation about something that you both have in common. It can really make someone’s day if you genuinely have something to compliment them on. Go on, spread a little love.
Seen something someone posted on social media lately? Ask them about it. Did they go on holiday recently? Ask them something specific about the location, instead of just “did you have a good time”?
Getting over the “awkward”
I can be quite an awkward person when it comes to starting conversations with people I don’t know too well. Meeting someone new, who I genuinely want to create a friendship with, and dreading those awkward silences when you can’t figure out what to say next. What if I get a mind blank and I literally forget my own name!! I find myself desperately wanting to ask them something interesting about themselves to find some common ground and have a genuine conversation.
Offer up a little bit of information about yourself. See if it sparks a conversation. If it does, ask a few genuine questions about that person once you get going.
And sometimes, you meet someone new and you’re SO on the same wavelength that conversation starters aren’t even a thing. With no effort at all, your’re blabbing away about your fave new ASOS jeans and last night’s episode of “Survival of the Fittest” (don’t judge, I’m into it). Save yourself for those conversations and don’t waste your time on the awkward non-conversation questions.
Just remember, the question “how are you?” can only be asked once each. And “alright?” should be banned.
Photos by @richross66