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  • Writer's picture15-Minute Friendships

10 Ice-Breaker Questions for When You Can't Think of Anything to Say

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

We've all been there. We're face to face with someone we'd like to get to know, maybe even foster a friendship with, and our minds go blank. Everyone else seems to chat effortlessly, but for some reason we just can't think of anything to say.


As many as 1 in 10 adults have a social anxiety disorder to some degree, but even if you don't, starting a conversation can still be a scary task. Maybe you're worried about sounding silly or not having anything interesting to say, or perhaps you want to ask a question, but your brain is just not giving you anything to go on.


Ice breakers sound like something from a bad dating TV show, but they don't have to be cheesy jokes or awkward one-liners. They can come in the form of a simple question designed to start the flow of conversation and give you something to bounce off of.


In their most basic forms, all conversations work like a call and response. One person says something, and the other person picks up on a key point based on what they've said and responds with a question, comment, or anecdote related to this point. The original person then responds to a key point from the question/comment/anecdote, and the back-and-forth begins. When things are off to a slow start, you can use these 10 ice-breaker questions to get a conversation going in almost all social situations.


Top tip: If you feel awkward cold-opening a conversation with some of the more outlandish questions on this list, most people will be disarmed if you acknowledge the weirdness of the question, e.g., "bit of a weird question, but have you ever had a paranormal experience?" or "I know not everyone believes in it, but I'm always curious to know people's star signs!"

1. "Have you had a busy week?"


Everybody works, studies, or has hobbies/interests that keep them busy. When chatting to someone casually, one of the easiest things you can enquire about is how someone spends their time. Ideally, this question will prompt the person you're asking to go into detail about some of the highlights or lowlights of their week, giving you topics to ask follow-up questions on.


Keep in mind that this is technically a closed question, which could be met with a one-word yes or no answer. In such cases, you could always follow up with "what did you get up to?" (for a yes) or "did you do anything fun/see any friends?" (for a no).


2. "Are you going away anywhere this year?"


This is another closed question, which could be met with a yes or a no, but it's easy to follow up on. "Where are you going?" invites them to share more if they say yes, and "is there anywhere you'd like to go to?" is a fun one to get them thinking if they say no.


3. "Are you doing anything for [SEASON / PUBLIC HOLIDAY]?"


Whether summer is on its way or a fun holiday like Halloween or Christmas is coming up, many people will have a rough idea of what they're doing. If they don't, you can always ask them if there's anything they'd like to do for that time of year or even offer suggestions for some fun things you've done in the past.


4. "Do you know about any good events coming up?"


People generally like to share their plans and, even if they've got nothing going on, they're likely to be aware of stuff that's coming up in their local community. This kind of question might invite a response such as "hmm, I don't know, like what?", in which case you can respond with examples of things you'd actually enjoy attending such as concerts, theatre performances, LGBTQ+ events, classes, etc.


5. "What's your favourite song at the moment?"


Asking someone their favourite song of all time is a lot of pressure and can leave them scratching their heads, but almost everyone has a song they're listening to a lot at any given time. Make sure to offer up your own example once they've told you theirs!


6. "Have you read any good books / seen any good movies lately?"


It's fun to be able to share a recommendation with someone, especially if you've just seen/heard/read something you particularly enjoyed. After you've asked this question, you can always follow up with "why did you like it?" or bring up a similar piece of media that you've enjoyed if the thing they suggested reminds you for anything.


7. "What's the worst job you've ever had?"


This can be an odd one to cold-open with, so it might be a good idea to get the conversation going by talking about work or jobs a little bit. A lot of people will relish the opportunity to complain about the awful jobs they've worked though!


As always, be mindful that some people can't or don't work for a variety of reasons, and this could present you with a response you're not prepared for. In these instances, the person will likely tell you why they can't/don't work, e.g., "I've never had a job because of my social anxiety!", and you may want to respond with a quick and sincere "oh, sorry, I shouldn't have just assumed" and move the conversation along.


8. "If you could speak any language, which would you speak and why?"


We're getting towards the more abstract questions on this list now, but these are usually the most fun. Questions like this are great because they can invite more questions about a person's experience with or love a language or culture. Make sure you know your answer so that you can share this too.


9. "Do you believe in astrology and what's your star sign?"


Some people love it, some people hate it, but almost everyone has an opinion on astrology. It's fun to find out people's star signs whether they believe in astrology or not, and you can ask follow up questions based on their answers. Someone who really hates astrology might just start monologing about why they think it's total rubbish, and someone who really loves it might start telling you exactly why they're the exact definition of a Gemini.


10. "Have you ever had a paranormal experience?"


This is my favourite question on the list. Not everyone will have an answer for this, but even the people who don't will often have a friend of a friend or a family member who has experienced something unexplained. If you've got your own paranormal experience to share right back, even better!

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