We understand not everyone is a big talker, but as a taxi driver a key part of your job is meeting new people and making them feel comfortable in your cab. You’ll be picking up men, women and children, of all ages, at different times of day or night and in many different circumstances.


It’s vital they feel safe and secure in your vehicle at all times. So, whether or not you’re a larger-than-life character who always has something to say, making great small talk can be a serious business. But if done right, it can be a lot of fun, too.


Before we let you into the secrets of sparkling conversation, remember to ensure you’ve got some comprehensive insurance for a taxi in case of mishaps while out on the road.


As we all know, anything can happen when you get behind the wheel at the start of your shift. Driving a taxi will give you some great tales to tell, but only if they have a happy ending!


Give the friendly team at Taxi Insurer a call, not only are we happy to hear about your latest escapades but we can also help you find a taxi insurance policy to suit your needs and budget.


And we can even work out an easy payment plan to make your insurance costs manageable alongside all your other business expenses.


So, what are you waiting for? Let’s begin!


Ten tips to get a conversation started. And keep it going.



  1. Make your passenger feel at ease


A simple smile and acknowledgment at the start of a journey can go a long way to make even the most shy or nervous passenger a little more at ease and relaxed. After all, they’re in a strange vehicle and might have never met you before.


If they seem a bit quiet when they first get in, give them a couple of minutes to acclimatise. You don’t need to launch into a full-blown conversation before they’ve even got settled! It also gives you a few moments to take stock of the situation, too.


A customer showing a taxi driver a destination on her phone through the divider in the taxi

  1. Remember, not everyone wants to talk


Before we get involved in the finer points of conversational etiquette it’s important to always keep in mind not everyone wants to talk. If you’ve made a little bit of small talk but they seem to be happy to sit back and enjoy the ride then take the message.


They may not be in the mood to talk, and if they’re happy not to then it’s important to respect that. Either way, most people will appreciate your effort to be polite and friendly even if you don’t end up having a lengthy conversation.



  1. Ask open-ended questions


Questions which require something more than a yes or no answer are a good way to get people talking. For example, if they’re off to a work meeting ask them how they got into that line of business or what they like most about it.


Beginning a question with the word ‘why’ is an easy way to keep the chat flowing. Remember, while many people are happy to talk about themselves, be aware someone might be uncomfortable answering personal questions.


And don’t just ask one question and then move on. Once the other person has finished their answer, ask a follow-up question. That way it won’t seem like you’re interrogating or interviewing them – not a great look for a friendly taxi driver!



  1. Be interested


If you don’t seem interested in their answers to your questions then the conversation will soon dry up. And if you genuinely aren’t interested then at least try to be a good actor! A good way to show interest is to ask them questions about a topic they bring up.


If you’re unfamiliar with the subject then this is a great opportunity to find out something new. As a taxi driver you could have a vast range of interesting people in the back of your car with a great deal of interesting information to share. You never know how much a throwaway comment from one passenger could help you later on.


Try to react to what they say in the spirit it is given. For example, if they make a joke, laugh politely (even if it wasn’t a real rib-tickler or you’ve heard it before). Or if they offer a surprising detail or titbit of information then try to react with surprise. Doing so, will make your passenger happy and make them want to keep talking to you.



  1. Be a good listener


Asking questions is great, but you need to listen to the answers if you don’t want to go round in circles. A handy result of this is that you’re a lot better able to thread the conversation together and choose different subjects depending on where the conversation is going. For example, if the person says they had to travel somewhere for their job.


Then you could speak to them about their job, where they travelled, or pick up on the theme of travel and talk about your own experiences. In any conversation there are a huge range of places you can go depending on your follow-up questions. This is also a useful way of avoiding topics that you really have no interest in or feel uncomfortable discussing. 


A businessman sitting in the back of a taxi on his mobile phone and laptop

  1. Don’t overthink


Your job is to drive your passenger quickly and safely from point A to point B. Try not to get too nervous or hung-up on how your conversational skills are coming along. Sometimes just saying what is on your mind is a perfectly reasonable way to start a conversation.


After all, it’s how we start most conversations in our everyday lives. It doesn’t mean that you need to blurt out everything in your head without any filter. It just means you don’t need to overthink everything. Just bring something up and see where the conversation goes. If it reaches a dead end then so be it – no harm done.



  1. Keep it local


Information or topics related to the local area are a great way to pass the time. And if they’re a visitor then they’ll often be very appreciative of a bit of local insight. From local news or recent developments there’s always plenty of things to talk about. And if they’re looking for some local recommendations, then it’s always useful to have a couple up your sleeve.


From the best local pubs and cafes to where to get a good haircut, a bit of insider knowledge is very useful and a great way to support the local economy. And if you recommend a local business to a passenger then you might find that business returns the favour! Local pubs, hotels and restaurants could send a lot of work your way if customers respond well to you.



  1. Find some common ground


Humans are social creatures who love making personal connections. Finding out that you have a similar taste in music or your children went to the same school could be the beginning of a long and fascinating conversation. It can also make a big difference when it comes to tipping or getting repeat business.



  1. Classic icebreakers


There is a vast array of conversational icebreakers suited to all types of situations, so keep your ears open for any unusual or interesting ones you come across. If you like having the radio on then news, weather or songs are simple ways to strike up an easy and natural conversation.


If it’s a controversial topic then it might be wise to let them bring it up if they choose to. Depending on the passenger it might be useful to opt for something fairly unobtrusive such as a music station rather than talk shows. Try to keep the volume at a comfortable level so it doesn’t disturb the passenger and you don’t get too distracted from the road.


A good idea is to mentally note down new topics of conversation as you go about your daily life. If you’ve read some interesting facts in the papers or watched a particularly interesting TV programme then it could be useful if you want to get a conversation started or change the topic.


If you do a lot of airport transfers then being up to date on some of the issues at popular holiday destinations can be useful. And if you’re stuck, asking them about where else they’ve been to or perhaps their dream destination could make your shift pass more quickly.


A fun thing to do is to learn how to say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘thank you’, and ‘where would you like to go?’ in different languages. You never know when this could come in handy, and it can be a nice welcome for someone who’s visiting the UK for the first time.


Just as other professions have their interesting facts to share, as a taxi driver you’ve got loads, too. As we’ve already noted, if you drive regularly around a certain area then you’ll get to know lots of useful information that could really make someone else’s day.


And don’t forget taxi driving itself, there are many fun facts about taxis that might entertain your passengers. You’ll be glad of them when you’re next struggling for something to say!


A customer talking to a taxi driver at the side of a road

  1. Know when to end a conversation


Keeping a conversation going until all possible topics are worn out is one way to go about talking with passengers. However, it might not be the best way to get repeat business! Even if the conversation is going well, it’s always better to end the conversation before it has completely run its course.


You want passengers to get out of your cab feeling like they would like to stay chatting. Rather than feeling like they can’t wait to get away. Keeping things short and sweet is a good way to leave a positive lasting impression.



Are there any subjects to avoid?


It may sometimes feel difficult to gauge what is and what is not appropriate but there are some sensitive or controversial topics that might be worth avoiding. These include politics, religion, a passenger’s physical appearance and age, and anything of a more ‘adult’ nature.


If you are in any doubt at all about whether something is inappropriate then it’s much better to avoid it rather than risk upsetting a passenger.


Remember, if a passenger feels uncomfortable for whatever reason, they’ll be very reluctant to travel with your taxi firm again. And if they feel intimidated by you, then you could well find they make a complaint to your firm, local authority – or even the police. When your livelihood is at stake this really doesn’t bear thinking about.



How to talk to someone who’s upset and distressed


As a taxi driver you may well encounter passengers who are upset and distressed, and this can be a big worry. While you aren’t responsible for making them feel better, there are a couple of simple things you can do to try and help.


  • Don’t ignore the person. Ask them if they are okay, or if they need any help.
  • Offering them a tissue is a simple way to acknowledge that they are upset.
  • Listen to what they have to say.
  • Try not to interrupt them.
  • Keep your voice calm.
  • Avoid pushing advice or opinions on them. They’ll probably just need someone to listen to them.
  • Give them space if they need it.



Get a quote for taxi insurance


When it comes to human nature, driving a taxi can certainly be more complicated than you would think. So, let the helpful team of insurance specialists here at Taxi Insurer help you find a taxi insurance policy that suits your needs and budget.


We can also work out a payment plan to make your payments more manageable alongside all the other business expenses.


Benefits of arranging insurance through Taxi Insurer can include the following:

  • Unique rates for public and private hire vehicles
  • Low deposits
  • Public Liability cover·           
  • Employer’s Liability cover


With Comprehensive, Third Party Fire & Theft, and Third party only cover available, you’ll be sure to find what you need.


Get a quick quote for taxi insurance today.


Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.