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General Topics of Conversation--Why is Weather the Most Common Topic?

Updated on May 14, 2013

The Conversation

I don't know how many times I've stepped outside on a break from my job, and invariably the first thing I hear is the following conversation:

"Well, do you think it's going to rain today?"

"I don't know, maybe, but who knows."

"That's true, you never know, it could."

Of course, I'm thinking, "who cares?" I'm looking back and forth between the people talking because one of my pet peeves is a conversation about weather. I was always taught it's hard to predict the weather patterns in the Midwest, so I don't like to have my schedule dictated by the weather report unless it's more than apparent a blizzard is on its way.

Talking about the effects of a disastrous storm is one thing, but talking about two gray clouds in the sky is like hearing chalk against the blackboard to me. I have always liked substance in a conversation and I do realize that the weather is a general subject most people have in common.

Winter 2011 in our neighborhood.
Winter 2011 in our neighborhood.

So Why Do People Talk About the Weather?

No matter what venue, even in a passing conversation with a stranger, you might hear, "I can't believe I left my umbrella in the car, just look at that rain!"

This year, for the first time, the law firm I work in shut down for two days because of a blizzard that kept dumping snow on Kansas City. The effects of this weather circumstance deserved attention and we were so paralyzed by it, we couldn't help but notice it, talk about it, and in some instances, even curse it.

Regardless of the season, we're making comments about the weather to the stranger next to us. It is the one subject that most people have in common. In some cases, it breaks the ice when someone is trying to engage in conversation. Is it nervous behavior? Do we say, "Gee, did it ever get up to 90 degrees today?" In my mind, if someone spends 10 minutes talking about the weather, then that someone has an underused imagination if wind speed is the only thing that comes to mind. Seriously. Sometimes it's better not to say anything at all but for "good morning." I'd rather hear, for starters, "How's your day going?"

Talking about the weather is a safe conversation. I have always liked to engage in conversation that is less banal. For example, if I walk outside into strong winds and my hair is blowing all over my face blocking my view, if someone outside says, "It sure is windy today," I generally am thinking, "uh, no, not really, my hair is just energy driven."

People are insecure and I find just by observation, most of the time, a subject of interest can be realized and a conversation can be born based on that subject.


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  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Express10, I concur. Next time, say, "really, are you sure?" My point is an overly relaxed imagination. Let's light up the imagination to fuel a conversation, even the smallest of conversations. Like walking outside in the snow and someone says, "It snowed." Really? Make the imagination come alive, stir the subjects, or just say, "how are you?"

  • Express10 profile image

    H C Palting 5 years ago from East Coast

    If I am cold and being rained on, it is irritating when someone outside with me says in a surprising manner that it's cold and rainy. Many people prefer sticking to what is considered safe territory but some seem unable to find a happy medium no matter how much you try to steer things to another topic.

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Have you noticed, ytsenoh, that the news goes "on and on and on" about every snowflake? I think they have used brainwashing techniques to make everyone hyper-vigilant of impending doom, thus we tune in religiously. Its almost comical, as so often, their predictions are exactly wrong, with the "big one" sneaking in under their radar.

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Amy, thank you for your thoughtful comment. And as we know, particularly in the areas of the country in which we live, the predictability of the weather is challenging, so we can move on to the next insightful and interesting subject. If we were to discuss the change in weather patterns, however, that's interesting. It's a matter of personal preference also. Whether or not it's going to sprinkle at 2am doesn't excite me too much. If there was a tornado warning, then of course, I am interested. If we have a snow dusting versus a potential blizzard like we had last year, then the latter will get my attention. I'd rather talk about favorite recipes, shopping venues, restaurants, history, authors, vacation hot spots, living experiences, life changing events, just not whether or not it's going to sprinkle at 2am.

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    I think, in general, the public has become so acutely afraid of being "politically incorrect", that the weather has become universally accepted as a "relatively" neutral conversational topic. Pollyanna's to cynics put their own spin on the forecast. Its non-segregating, non-denominational, non-threatening and open to observation without requirements of age, IQ or mental status. Its almost taken the place of the handshake for civility in our germ-phobic society.

    Well written, interesting choice of a great topic, Cathy. Who would imagine that today's civility can be so annoyingly mundane! Yet, it has become a standard, safe way of connecting in a sometimes scary world.

  • SallyTX profile image

    Sally Branche 5 years ago from Only In Texas!

    Well, if you want your talk about the weather to be less banal, just make some kind of speculation about global warming! ;D

    Voted up and interesting!

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Zabella, thank you. Sorry about that weather mishap and the smile your closing comment brought. It reminds me when someone goes to the window and it's snowing and says, "it looks like it's snowing," and I want to say, "it's an illusion really...."

  • Zabbella profile image

    Zabbella 5 years ago from NJ-USA

    I remember walking to work one cool rainy morning when suddenly a car splashed me...I had to continue, wet and miserable. When I arrived at work,soaked to my hips.. some perky joker (yeah)commented "Is it raining?" grrr!

    My pet peeve is someone asks "Is it still raining outside?" (Well, where ELSE would it be raining?)

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    I definitely think the subject of weather can open a door into a larger conversation once in a comfort zone. Thanks much for your comments!

  • gajanis786 profile image

    gajanis786 5 years ago

    Good hub.....I think people do talk about weather much in their conversations just as a pre-talk and making themselves more comfortable before they indulge in more serious issues later on......and interestingly this habit has proved successful always.Thanks.

  • truthfornow profile image

    truthfornow 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

    People talk about the weather to avoid talking about other issues. I can understand when a hurricane is coming and people get obsessed about the weather, but even that gets old. Break the ice and move onto other topics is what I say. Great hub!

  • ytsenoh profile image

    Cathy 5 years ago from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, Missouri

    Thank you. I think asking people how they're doing is a better alternative than speculating what the weather will bring and I'm referring to general weather like rain sprinkling. I just see it as a sign to uplift the imagination. If, however, the subject is about what causes hail to form, that would be an interesting subject.

  • awaqas1 profile image

    awaqas1 5 years ago from Gananoque, Ontario

    I have thought of it a few times, but there isn't anything really that safe as talking about the weather.

    Another question I find which usually starts an insightful conversation is asking people about their day or what they are up to.

    Interesting Hub :)

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