Many find themselves facing the issue of what to talk about as the years go by. Topics can easily digress to sharing personal health issues including way too many details, updates on who has recently died or is incapacitated, or other depressing topics. Since according to Harvard Public Health, a growing body of evidence suggests those with stronger social ties live longer and are more satisfied with their lives, we thought it would be valuable to give a heads-up on some ideas.
A large part of social interaction includes talking so the subject on what to talk about may help those of us entering this phase of life. For a number of years, I performed the Bonnie Raitt song Something to Talk About. The lyrics reveal that people talk about people, whispering and laughing about a little mystery to share. The song’s message is all about love, but finding something to talk about through the changes of life is very applicable and relevant to our lives. Included in this article is an acrostic spelling FRIENDS that will give a launching pad for future conversations. You can download it free here: FRIENDS Download.
F for Family
Asking questions is one of the secrets for anyone wondering what to talk about. An easy question to ask is all about family. Do they have kids? Where are they now and what are they doing? Are they planning on moving closer to their kids or just increasing their travel?
There are many more questions you can ask about family and usually this will elicit even more information than you really want to know. Hopefully your talking partner will have enough social skills to reciprocate questions about your life and family, though I realize there are many who just focus on themselves. If grandkids are part of the conversation, the pictures will be endless!
R for Recreation
People love to talk about their trips and show you photos, so be prepared! Recreation can include travel, but also any sort of indoor or outdoor physical activity. According to Pickleheads.com, there are 36.5 million Pickleball players in the United States as of January 2023. Pickleball has surpassed tennis and there are many tennis courts now being repurposed to play Pickleball. It’s a conversation starter!
Hiking, walking, biking and other recreational activities like yoga or Pilates are easy topics to approach. Stretching and strength training are topics easily approached as most need to add these exercises for health reasons, especially upon aging. Healthy living also includes nutritional eating. You can go as deep as you want. (see goal setting worksheets)
I for Interests
Interests can include hobbies, church involvement or work with a non-profit. Even if you know nothing about the area, ask questions to find out more. Most love to talk about what they are involved in. The conversation may even interest you in getting involved. Volunteer tutors and coaches are usually volunteer positions that are always present at any stage of life and information about them make good conversation.
I know those who have joined a community choir when they found themselves having more time. Many churches still have choirs but also many communities have groups that are open to the public. Most will have some sort of audition, but not all. It’s a great place to meet people and it’s terrific fun to work toward a performance.
E for Endeavors
Where do you plan to travel next? That’s a great question to ask, especially if you have covered all the basics and need to continue the conversation. We had a conversation with a couple we met for the first time at a Christmas Open House. We told them about our recent trip to South Africa (see article below) and we just learned they booked a couple of our suggested resort locations for safaris. Their details of their trip most likely will be the topic of our conversation the next time we see them, which may be next Christmas.
After it had totally shutdown in the past years, according to TSA.gov, travel numbers are going up. Almost one third of travelers said they intend to spend more on travel this year than in 2022, according to the WTTC and Trip.com. As well as travel, endeavors can also include projects and hobbies. Some hobbies even turn into a side business that is very fulfilling at the halftime of life.
N for News
News has become a hot-button with fake news and opinion pieces taking over the networks. Politics have become a central issue, so adopting a non-divisive attitude is extremely important to keep cool heads. There are many that don’t want to approach politics at all, and I don’t blame them. But there are many interesting news subjects and even positive topics to talk about. If a topic gets tense, just move to something else like, “What about those Yankees?”
Technology is always an area of interest as it is growing exponentially in the news. You don’t need to be a techie to talk about tech so don’t be afraid of it! There are new apps for phones, 3D knee and hip replacements, rocket ships that blow up soon after takeoff. You can read headlines and get the gist of most of the news these days and sound very smart. Some news is terrifically funny. You can’t make up some of the absurd details of certain occurrences.
D for Details
It’s fairly well known how important an attitude of lifelong learning is for keeping mentally sharp all through our second half of life. If you find yourself asking about an area you know nothing about, you can still ask questions. This is the better approach than trying to act smart as you will be found out!
I’ve recently been listening to historical novels that have been fascinating. It is a way for me to fill in the gaps of history I had never really learned. If you are looking for more details, a good question to ask is what book they’ve recently read or get suggestions of a couple of their favorites. Also, ask about something new they learned recently. There are so many options for learning. Online Learning courses (see our Courses) are endless and are immediately available. Financial matters are also interesting. As a former RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) my husband is constantly asked for his opinion about financial matters. He will give his opinion as he keeps up on all the current news, but always with a disclaimer. It’s not advice! But most people want to be smart about their money.
S for Sports
Sports is its separate category as it’s a big part of our lives, especially mine. Even though I wasn’t raised with sports, I married a professional athlete and raised sons. There’s always something to talk about pertaining sports. I readily admit I don’t follow many sports, though I do enjoy a game now and then. I also listen in on conversations between my husband and our sons go into great detail about the most recent game or golf match.
Sports are also a fun way to keep friendships alive. We met a couple on a VBT Bike trip and they were Kansas City Chiefs fans. When the Chiefs were playing in the Super Bowl, we sent them a text asking who they thought would win. Even though we hardly keep up with all the new friendships we made all across the country, it sports is a conversation we can start at any time.
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Asking questions is one of the secrets for anyone wondering what to talk about.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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