15 topics for small talk in the workplace

Just because you are a communicator doesn’t mean you are a whiz at the water cooler. Here are some topics that can make for light conversation—and help break the ice.


We’ve all been in situations that required us to make awkward small talk.

Perhaps it was at the office holiday party, at a dinner with clients or at your child’s dance recital. Maybe you have nosy in-laws or a co-worker who frequently “pops in” to your cube.

Even the smoothest PR pro can need a little help from some neutral topics of conversation. Why not talk about your passion for language? Below are 15 little-known facts about the English language that can help you fill an awkward void.

  1. The English language has 1,100 different ways to spell its 44 distinct sounds, more than any other language. (Source: Learn English Spelling)
  2. You can spell out all the numbers from 1 to 99 without using the letters A, B, C or D.
  3. The most commonly used word in written English is “the.” The most commonly used spoken word in English is “I.” (Source: Rinkworks.com.)
  4. Edith Wharton—who began living in Paris in 1907—received a Legion of Honor from the French government for her support of the French during World War I.
  5. “You” and “ewe” are pronounced the same, but have no letters in common.
  6. Roughly 1,000 new words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary every year.
  7. The words “bookkeeper” and “bookkeeping” are the only unhyphenated English words with three consecutive sets of double letters.
  8. A palindrome is a word, phrase, or other sequence of letters that reads the same backward or forward, such as, “Never odd or even.

  9. Around 45 percent of English vocabularyis of French origin.
  10. “Sequoia” is the shortest English word containing all five vowels.
  11. Author Agatha Christie was an avid surfer. She became adept at the sport and surfed in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Honolulu.
  12. Ninety percent of English text consists of just 1,000 words.
  13. Misusing “their,” “there,” and “they’re” and other grammar gaffes are among the biggest texting sins for online daters.
  14. Gherkins,” “quartzy,” and “muzjiks” are some of the highest-scoring words in Scrabble.
  15. The space between the eyebrows and the nose is known as the glabella.

What other language or literary facts can you add to this list, PR Daily readers?

Laura Hale Brockway is a writer and editor living in Austin, Texas. Read more of her work on PR Daily and at Impertinent Remarks.

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