With the holiday season here, soon it will be time to get together with family. Sometimes, however, holiday dinners can be really awkward. Certain topics can spark heated arguments, while others are just completely depressing. Long periods of total silence can also be really awkward when it goes beyond a few seconds needed to take another bite. Some topics are totally boring, while others are just plain inappropriate.
The key is to discuss topics that everyone at the table can participate in and be interested in. Before Aunt Millie starts asking you when you plan on settling down and starting a family, or before Cousin Jake starts a bragging marathon about his new yellow Corvette, chime in with one of the following conversation topics that should be safe for discussion at holiday dinner.
Funny or Uplifting News Events
Keep your finger on the pulse of the latest happenings in the news, and use these as conversation starters at the holiday dinner table. However, steer clear of heavy topics, such as anything to do with death, politics, religion, or any other controversial or depressing story that will just kill the mood.
Instead, stick to stories that are uplifting, heart-warming or funny. These make for a fun, enlightening conversation that should get faces smiling. For instance, a news story about a dog saving its master from a fire-engulfed house, or the latest incredible play made by JJ Watt in a Texans football game (ok, so we are a tiny bit biased). Both can be conversation starters that will have everyone pitching in their two cents.
Everyone loves a good movie, and if you've seen a really great one lately, mention it. Ask other table guests if they've seen it too, and ask them what they thought about it. Make sure you're prepared to have a follow-up suggestion or thought about the plot of the movie, or its ending. This is a particularly good way to change the subject if the previous conversation was heading in the wrong direction. The next time Uncle Joe starts talking about his thoughts on what started the Gulf War, you can quickly pipe up with something like, "Has anyone seen The Hunger Games?"
People with pets love gushing about their furry friends. If one person starts talking about the latest antics of their pooch, others with pets will surely have their own stories to tell. Pets tend to have their own unique personalities and funny ways of doing things. Talk about the Halloween costume you made your dog wear, or how your cat gave you serious attitude after you returned from your latest vacation or how iOffice employees bring their dogs to work – that is sure to get their attention. It's an easy topic to bring up, and one that will typically spark funny, uplifting stories as opposed to talking about FM Software.
Totally Random Facts
Sometimes all it takes to get a decent and engaging conversation going is to educate your table mates with a random, interesting fact. Do a little research before its time to gather around the table, and come armed with some doozies. The internet is crammed with websites that are based solely around strange-yet-true facts.
Facts such as, "Did you know that Siberia gets so cold that boiling water poured from a pot can actually freeze before hitting the ground?" or "Did you know that you can estimate the temperature by counting how many times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds, then adding 37?" can be entertaining and even thought-provoking. Who knows what others at the table might have to contribute to a conversation like this - you might learn something new yourself!
Talking about past jobs can be surprisingly entertaining, especially jobs that you may have had when you were young. The older folks especially love this topic, as it offers them an opportunity to stroll down memory lane and reminisce about fun times. Whether your first job was cleaning out chicken coops at the local farm, or as a telemarketing pen salesperson, most likely everyone at the table will have their own entertaining story to tell.
However, make sure not to keep harping about a bad boss or annoying co-worker. Complaining will not be something people necessarily want to listen to. In addition, stay away from boring topics, even though they might be exciting for you.
While you may be very enthusiastic about the new facilities management software that you've implemented into your workplace to help streamline your office's productivity and efficiency, this might not necessarily be a topic that others understand or know about, or even be interested in. Of course, if there are other FMs at the table who could learn a thing or two about this innovative Integrated Workplace Management System, you may find this topic quite enlightening!
The holidays should be a time of celebrating each other's company, especially if you don't see family very often. Maximize your time spent with relatives by filling it with positive, uplifting stories, rather than gloomy or hot-button topics.