Are you allergic to small talk? Do those awkward silences feel like they last for ten years and make you want to pull off your own ears? Does your brain start throwing random suggestions at you of things to say, each more ridiculous than the last?

Part of becoming a social butterfly is knowing how to talk to people. Sounds easy, but for some it is just the worst thing ever, and talking to strangers causes you to rapidly forget every word of English you every learned including your own name.

Every one of us should have a ‘go to’ list of conversations starters, or questions that will help you to get to know someone and learn who they are as people as soon as possible. Talk to anyone for long enough, and you will find something  in common with them.

Here are some ice-breakers to keep in your back pocket for small talk emergencies…

What is your favorite food?

According to Instagram, everyone wants to know what everyone else is eating. Does anyone really like pickles in their Big Mac’s? If so WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? Lets find out…

Do you like to travel?

Those who love to travel always have interesting stories. This is a great way to learn about people without getting super personal. Ask your new friend where they have been? Which was their favourite trip? Where would they love to go next and why?

What are you reading/watching?

What did we talk about before Netflix? Who knows. People are readers or watchers, but they get really invested in their favourite charachters, whether on screen or on a page. Ask them what they’re currently stuck in, and why.

Do you have any pets?

People who have pets love pets. Ask them about them. Are they in camp dog or camp cat? Ask to see a picture? Tell them their little Tiddles is gorgeous. They’ll be putty in your hands

What do you want to be when you grow up?

You can even ask a grown up this. Everyone has dreams for their future. This is great to learn what people are passionate about.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?

We need to get better in Ireland about liking ourselves. It’s an interesting way to discover what makes someone tick, fast. It may also pull out a few insecurities, which leads to a vulnerable and honest conversation.

What are you most proud of?

This could be in relation to work, school, hobbies or personal challenges. No matter what, you’ll learn what they value.

What are you truly passionate about?

If you only have time for one question, let it be this one. This takes you straight beyond small talk. People come alive when they talk about things that make them happy.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? The worst?

Love this one, and you might even learn something!

What’s the weirdest thing in your purse/wallet right now?

Full disclosure, this could go horribly wrong. But it probably won’t. Hopefully.

Tell me your funniest joke.

Everyone should have one go-to joke that they love. What’s yours?

If you could start a cult, what would it be? And what would it be called?

If they already have a cult, start running, This is only cool if hypothetical.

Could you survive in the wilderness?

What skills did they have? Can they milk a cow? Or a cactus?

How many apps are in your phone right now?

A messy homescreen is the sign of a messy soul. Maybe.