Forecast – Weather Or Not

Forecast – Weather Or Not

Why is the weather a much more used and effective conversation starter than just about anything else? Walk through this analysis with me as I take a stab at answering this intriguing question.

First of all, when initializing a conversation with a stranger, an acquaintance, or even a loved one, we tend to feel more comfortable with establishing what we perceive to be a neutral starting point. This becomes especially important when we are interacting with strangers or acquaintances. After all, we would probably not do well to meet someone for the first time, and immediately blurt out something like, “I hate cats!” or “My cheeseburger was a little on the greasy side.” As humans, most of us (though not all) have a natural aversion to sharing or receiving such personal preferences or identifying characteristics initially. For many, this type of intrusion is analogous to hanging out with someone who has bad breath. It is something they do not relish, and try hard to steer clear of. So the middle road is taken, and anything to revealing in the beginning is avoided. Very few of us like to think of ourselves as being on a first-come first-served basis. We all have a filtering mechanism for the type of company we keep. We need an ice-breaker.


Coming up with something that both parties can evaluate rather candidly, that is outside ourselves, where no offense is likely to be given or taken is the middle road in initiating conversation. This leads us rather naturally and intuitively down the road of discussing something that we perceive as factual and real, and not a matter of much debate- something we can see, taste, smell, hear, or touch (feel).

If we choose to engage with a stranger or an acquaintance in start-up conversation with something that we can see, taste, hear, or smell, we would likely do so with one of these things that is not an ordinary part of our day. If it was of a more mundane nature, it would take more thought and creativity on our part because these “things” are objects and have a tendency to be static from one day to the next. However, if we met a neighbor outside on a walk one day, and there was a steady breeze that was blowing an odorous stench from the chicken poop fertilizer factory, we might in fact chitchat about our olfactory senses for a brief time. Then we would no doubt skedaddle into the safe recesses of our living quarters. This also holds true with our sense of sound.

We are not likely to comment on things related to this sense to begin conversation unless it too seems out of the ordinary. For example, if someone revved up the RPM’s in their muscle car and squealed the tires in a residential area populated with a lot of young toddlers, this may be an effective starting point of conversation for concerned parents; or maybe a string of police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances that rush down the highway to take care of business. We might comment on the urgency of the situation and wonder together out loud what the emergency was, and then more than likely out thoughts and speech would lead elsewhere into more meaningful layers of conversation.


The senses of taste, sight, sound, and smell aside, weather, on the whole, scores the most points as a conversation builder and an effective place to transition from because not only is it a sense, but is the sense that we more readily share with those to whom we choose to speak with, it being rather neutral and more objectively measured.

It is not a single object from which to make an easily biased judgment about, and it is more changeable in nature than many of the less dynamic types of sights, sounds, tastes, and smells that we experience on a daily basis. And to take it a “degree” further, the weather “touches” everyone’s lives. And when we communicate with each other, it’s really not always so much about what we say, but rather how we feel towards the subject as well as the person with whom we are communicating.

Herein lies the key- we first talk about the weather because we want to establish a “feel” for where the conversation may lead if anywhere at all, to gauge and measure the effectiveness of our interpersonal relation. Depending on the tone of the response we get, warm or cold, we proceed (or not) from there.

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