It often happens to me, that I met some friend in the bus/tram/subway etc., but my friend is not alone, but with his/her friend (whom I don't know at all).

We are talking about something, my friend knows both of us, so there is no problem. Then my friend gets off the vehicle and only this "stranger" and I remain. If we stop talking, it is awkward. But we don't know anything about each other (sometimes not even the name). We probably won't see each other ever again, and we would probably enjoy reading a book or playing with our smartphones much more than talking to each other.

What to do in such situation? What to talk about?

(I am from Middle Europe country. A city with good public transportation, three subway routes, a lot of buses and trams.)

  • 4
    Why is it awkward if you stop talking?
    – Mithical
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 19:20
  • 6
    "Why" is a tricky question when it comes to awkwardness. We talked since then and if we are standing just like that and pretending that nothing happened it is awkward to me, but I don't know how to explain such emotion.
    – TGar
    Commented Jun 27, 2017 at 19:23
  • Could you add a country tag to this question, and edit this question and add some information about the cultural context? The answer to this question will depend on your cultural context.
    – user288
    Commented Aug 4, 2017 at 14:35
  • 1
    Although this may have been a very good question in the beginning of IPS, we've since narrowed down our scope significantly. Asking what to do or say is considered to be off-topic nowadays, so I've closed your question as such.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 14:30

6 Answers 6


The "natural" subject to talk about is your mutual friend. Because that is what you and the "stranger" have in common. It's a subject you both know something about.

After you've exchanged stories about "how long have you known X," you'll be in a better position to judge whether or not you have anything else to talk about.


Here is a trick I was taught. People like talking about.... THEMSELVES! My mother always can get life stories from ANYONE (in a good way) very fast. Just ask about them. How is life? Siblings? What do you like to do in free time? And just ask questions and be sincere about all questions.

  • 1
    Really? I don't know. I don't like talking about myself.
    – TGar
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 5:30
  • 5
    @TGar You are in the minority
    – user117
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 10:02

This is purely situational depending on if the "stranger" actually keeps your interest or not after your friend has left the bus.

In situations where you are interested - I would keep the conversation going by what was being spoken about before, as it could branch into deeper topics.

However, in situations where you are not interested - after your friend has left the bus, I would say "I'm sorry, I have to catch up on some personal business/stuff for work. But it was nice talking with you earlier."


Just try with few topics. As others suggested, try and talk about the mutual friend. Then, slide through some related topics:

So John is a great basket player, isn't he? Do you also like sports?

If you try with some of these hallways of conversations, you may find some motorways in which you may click with the other person.


How to make small talk:

  1. Create a topic, doesn't matter what it is

  2. Involve them in that topic. Ask follow-up questions. When in doubt, ask about them.

  3. Mention yourself, but less than you do them

Talking is a skill. Have you ever noticed some people can bring up topics out of thin air, and make it seem engaging?

It not easy, but small talk isn't about what you're saying it's how both parties feel during the conversation Like Christopher said, make sure to involve them heavily. This will make them feel understood and valued. They will also, ironically, find you more interesting. Why do we make small-talk?

Give it a try. Talk about elephants.

"Did you hear about that elephant that gave birth last month in Jakarta?"

"No, I'm not into animals."

"Aw! Why not? Haven't you been to a zoo?"

"I don't like zoos."

"I love them! Why don't you like them?"



I think it depends on vibe and context, but my experience has shown that being genuinely curious about the other person leads to great conversations. Sprinkle in some other ideas and conversations can happen:

1) Ask questions of the person in a non-interrogatory manner. Relate it to something else. 2) Notice something on the bus or in your environment. Relate it to something else and weave into other conversations. 3) Relate some personal stories about yourself 4) Comment on something they are wearing 5) Get comfortable with silences. They happen.

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