Skip to main content

happy friday + what to say to strangers at a party…

Oh Joy / The Confetti Project

Oh Joy / The Confetti Project

A while back, I was having a conversation with my friend Caroline about how I often feel awkward at parties where I don't know anyone and have to figure out what to talk about. She mentioned how in the States, one of the first things people tend to ask someone they've first met is "What do you do?" or "What do you do for work?" Whereas in other countries, strangers tend to ask each other about their hobbies or what they enjoy doing. I thought a lot about that as I find myself in social situations often where it's not a work-related event, I am trying to have a friendly conversation with someone new, and I don't want to focus solely on their job. What if they don't like their job? What if they don't have a job? Or maybe they just don't want to talk about work? So instead (inspired by Caroline), I have been saying THIS to new people in these new conversations…

What are you excited about right now?

I love that so much because it allows the person to answer it in any way they want and about whatever they want. If something amazing is going on at work, they can talk about it. Or, if they want to talk about their kids, their upcoming vacation, their home renovation, or the new gym they found…great! It's all open and fair game and still gives you some insight into this new person without assuming that their job defines them.

What do you think? Will you try that next time you meet someone new?

{Photo by The Confetti Project. Written by Joy Cho.}


  1. Loved this so much! THANK YOU!! I was having a conversation with my friend about this EXACT thing and we couldn’t figure out an alternative to “what do you do for work?”. I love that this allows someone to talk about something they truly want to talk about. Can’t wait to ask this the next time I meet someone new.

  2. This is so lovely. I was a SAHM for several years after my daughter was born and I loathed certain social situations because of this question. A stranger would inevitably ask me what I do for a living, I would tell them and there would be an awkward moment followed by a generic “that’s the hardest job in the world” remark and the conversation usually shut down, then, awkwardly. This is such a great tip to avoid that and other awkward moments that stem from that very common icebreaker!

  3. Hi Molly,
    Yes! This was part of the reason I changed it because I was meeting new moms at my kids’ schools and some are SAHMs. It allows more flexibility and less pressure to be answered a certain way!

  4. Joy,
    This is such a beautiful message and so true. Although I love my job, it’s not the only aspect of life that defines me. What are you excited about is a much better question!

  5. I am making the switch Joy!!
    I LOVE THIS. I bet it lights people up immediately thinking of what they’re excited about instead of trying to explain what they do. That joyful feeling will help you remember each other the next time you run into them! This small change can even lead to a longer more meaningful conversation!

  6. Sometimes you meet people who will say something like “oh nothing” or something like that– what do you think the right response is?! Honestly, sometimes there is nothing exciting going on in my life either but it is a great question and one I’d love to use given the right situation.

  7. Hi Sylvie!
    I think the interesting thing about that question is it asks “what are YOU excited about right now” vs. “what’s exciting that’s going on right now?”. It sort of takes the pressure off the expectation that you have to wow the other person with your response. Because the answer could simply be…I can’t wait for the weekend! Or, I can’t wait to veg out on Netflix tonight ;P

  8. Great post, I will try it the next time. In Germany it´s the same , the first question is always “What are you doing/working”
    Greatings Kathrin


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Along