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From the Grapevine: Small talk more than the weather

Small talk isn’t always fun. Some hate it, some tolerate it and others are weirdly good at it. The weather has taken on the reputation of a cliché ice breaker for small talk that sometimes feels forced and lacks creativity, but not only does it break the ice, it gives an insight into overall well-being. How we feel about the day’s forecast correlates to our mood and provides a soft landing to determine compatibility in conversation.

When first initiating conversation, we don’t know how the other person communicates or how they feel, so it can be scary to dive head first into complex topics, however, as human beings we need conversation and compatibility for happiness and further, longevity of life itself. 

A study looking at similarities and likemindedness in dyads, or social groups of two, found a breakthrough perspective on relationships. Instead of growing to be more alike, the most intimate relationships are between two like-minded people before they ever meet. We look for little pieces of ourselves in others to find comfort in familiarity, and what’s one thing we can always relate to? The weather. It can easily sway the outcome of the day and we wind up together in its wake, sharing trivial stories of survival and perseverance. 

Another study looked at the relationship between climate and overall well-being or satisfaction with life and found the two were closely tied. Even more, the weather affects how we feel without us even noticing. We constantly take in passive information that affects us without realizing it. How could one get through the day if every observation was a focal point of introspection? 

When one asks, “How’s the weather there?” The responder is forced to confront this infinitely apparent element and subconsciously answers with not only the weather but also how it’s making him or her feel. In other words, we can confide in others our true feelings hidden discreetly between seemingly insignificant observances of the sky. 

This confidence can also lead to a domino effect, altering the feelings of constituent subjects. An analysis of the study explained when discussing negative topics, people unintentionally view sequential thoughts from the same negative perspective. The small talk discussion of the damper of rain or clouds can lead to a downward spiral of an internal or external expression of feelings, and sharing the loveliness of a sunny day magnifies the excitement of everything else. 

In a TED Talk called, “The Art of Being Yourself,” Caroline McHugh discusses self-worth and ego. She compares our fluctuating ego to the changing state of the sky, which clouds the reality of its blue complexion and residing sun. On darker days when you feel less yourself, you are still you, and everyone truthfully sees you the same despite what the day’s ego holds. In the same way, as storms pass, the sun and stars will always be waiting underneath for you to notice they were there all along. 

It remains true that weather influences emotions. Cold, windy days leave us more agitated and stressed and the springtime sun lifts an immense weight of winter’s depression from tired shoulders, almost pulling you off the ground as its warmth permeates everything in sight, but it can be mundane to discuss something that appears to be plain. 

A little bit of brainstorming could lead to a perfectly long list of small talk icebreakers, but when done correctly, there’s really nothing wrong with talking about the weather. It can provide compatibility and lead to comfort in just one thing in common before taking off onto the next. With any ice breaker, don’t linger on it for too long, but use them as a boost of reassurance that you can talk about anything and you should for both temporary contentment and long-term survival.  

Libby Evans is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Libby know by emailing her at

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