Here's What to Talk to Your Boss About In the Elevator

As antisocial as we may claim to be, as proud as we are to roll our eyes at the words “small talk,” there’s really no avoiding it sometimes when it comes to your boss. Whether you two are rushing to a meeting together or happen to wind up side by side in the elevator at the end of a long day, it’s not ideal to avoid eye contact and pop in your headphones (trust me on that one). You want to avoid being rude, but you don’t want to get into anything too deep, I get it, so here’s a little cheat sheet for a successful but brief conversation with the person who issues your paycheck.

Talk about: 

1. The weather
Yeah, clichéd, I know, but there’s a reason for that. It’s always there, and everyone experiences it, so you’re sure of always being on the same page there. If it’s raining, maybe they hate the rain and you love it; that’s still harmless banter bait.

 2. One of their accessories
Think a tie, bracelet, glasses, etc. It’s a quick, easy icebreaker, and a genuine compliment is always appreciated.

3. The latest superhero movie
At the rate that DC, Marvel, and other studios are cranking these (mostly) blockbusters out, it’s a safe bet that the hype around the most recent installment will have reached everyone, even your employer. The trailers alone are usually being buzzed about seconds after release, so this conversation topic can be a fun way to lighten up a workday.

4. Pets
Most people, unless they are terrible people, love talking about their dog, cat, lizard, etc. or, if they don’t have one, about how cute said pets are in general. You may even get cute animal photos or videos out of this one, but beware of sad dead pet stories.

5. Commuting
Just like the weather, lags in traffic and line delays are a universal experience that almost no one can pass up the chance to commiserate about.

6. Projects that are going well/ that ended well
This topic is perfect if you’d rather keep the focus on work and signal to your boss that your focus is, indeed, on work while keeping things upbeat and optimistic. A comment on your confidence in an upcoming meeting or your pride in a recent success of the company’s can be bolstering for the both of you.

 7. Your respective weekends
Okay, maybe you don’t want to admit to those 6-hours-straight show binges, but asking about their weekend and hitting the finer points of yours (a jog, a good book, finally trying the new sushi place) is an easy enough conversation.

Don't talk about:

 1. Religion/Politics
Not for the reasons you might expect, though. Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable and possible to have civil disagreements on these topics, but because of their personal and, recently, contentious nature, a disagreement can quickly turn heated. Best to avoid screaming at your boss about healthcare when they could be the determining factor in yours.

 2. Coworkers
Office gossip is sometimes unavoidable, but steering clear of it around your boss is a no-brainer. You don’t want to be known as the person complaining about everyone else, because guess who will then be the topic of office elevator conversation?

Feature image by Samuel Zeller via Unsplash