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How to talk to real adults - Adulting Mythbusters

I find adult small talk very hard to grasp, half of the time I barely know what people are talking about or how to reply without sounding like a total mess. Because of this, I feel like it would be extremely useful to keep a few topics in mind in case of imminent interaction with real adults.


adulting small talk

Not long ago, my manager was sitting next to me in the coffee room and asked if I was excited for the Olympics. As you'd probably expect from me, I looked at her like you'd look at blue foundation: defensive and puzzled. Definitely not the right look for what actually was a very good adult small talk input. I am willing to disclose my knowledge because I don't want you to make my same mistakes. So, imagine your target adult as the red nosed patient of Operation board game, the last thing you want is to kill them by touching a sensitive topic. At the same time, it's a board game, there is no need to be completely sincere or too interested in their life, play with the organs you have available and keep it short and sweet.

Here is a top three of the best topics for small talk with an adult. Now, grab pen and paper or your phone, and write these down because they will come in handy more often than you'd think! 

  • Lighthearted World News
Olympics, Oscars, Nobel prizes, science discoveries that made it to your Facebook newsfeed, are all great options. Even if none of these is your cup of tea we can assume the average adult's knowledge on the matter would be at your same level if not higher. Play it safe by asking a question about it rather than making a statement. "Have you heard of..." "Are you excited for..." "Have you seen..." are great ice breakers.

  • Movies, Music or Books
These are always good topics, because everyone has a favourite movie or has seen a movie trailer in the last forty-eight hours. It's a bit more tricky with books because no one seems to read anymore, unless you see your target adult doing so. Remember to mention that cool podcast on self fulfillment you heard on TED Talks. And, as much as it hurts my soul to say this, rather than listing the German metal bands you love, say you like listening to the radio, or the Beatles. After all, you just need to make it to your floor on the elevator, not to become besties.

  • The Weekend
Ask how their weekend was/ Complain that it's too far/ Ask what their plans are for the upcoming one. This is a re-usable topic according to which day of the week you are using it, how cool is that? One more thing, be prepared with a decent answer because they will ask you the same question out of courtesy. Saying you can't remember anything and you woke up wearing someone else's shoes is an answer an adult won't be pleased with. Red nose! Whereas dinner with friends where you cooked something is a great answer and showcase social and home economics skills.


Notice how there's no mentioning of news? Well that's because there is a very short step between talking about the news and arguing about politics and the existence of God. If you find yourself trapped with your target adult in front of a TV abort the mission by nodding and making a non-explicit vocal sound like "awh" or "hmh" and nodding/shaking your head while slowly leaving the room.

Other topics not to talk about are: the Fight Club, religion, celebrity gossip, politics, sex, economics, war, weather, traffic, gossip about coworkers, family, daddy issues, racism, things you care about, your ideals, fetishes, shopping, dreams, bodily functions, romance, choices you cannot motivate, alcohol, drugs, your mother, health, finance, deaths, strange addictions, trash TV, Nazis, gays in Russia, slavery, internet memes, Nicholas Cage, Chinese that aren't good at maths, and basically any of the Cards against Humanity white cards.

For more episodes of Adulting MythBusters, click here!


Image: thanks to Martina

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