Chatting with Americans

Americans are often quite friendly with strangers and many of us particularly enjoy striking up conversations with people from other countries. We call casual conversation chatting. But if you are just getting to know someone that you’re hoping will be a friend, be aware of what topics of conversation are good. If you would like to make more friends with Americans, here are some topics that can lead to a friendly, social conversation:

Your native country and why you moved to the U.S.

What everyone (who is part of the conversation) does for a living.

Where everyone is originally from and where they live now.

Recommendations for local restaurants, attractions and activities

What everyone likes to do in their free time (these activities are often called hobbies)

How everyone feels about the current weather

Weather is a big topic of conversation in Chicago because temperatures vary widely throughout the year and weather can change quickly and unpredictably in a matter of days or hours. You can often find common ground by commenting on how nice the weather has been, if it’s been warm and sunny, or how cold, rainy or snowy the weather has been.

If you’re just getting to know someone, whether they are a neighbor, co-worker, potential friend or professional contact, it’s best to avoid the following topics:

Politics

Religion

Money

Sex

These subjects are quite controversial in the U.S. Often when an American suspects you don’t agree with them on one of the first two topics, it can lead to hard feelings. For the second two topics, many simply feel these subjects are too personal to discuss with someone they don’t know well. It’s best to avoid these topics completely until you’ve established a strong relationship.