Small Talk 101: A Damn Useful Grab Driver’s Guide To Solid Conversations

Grab happened six years ago and driving took a different turn since then. From just good driving, drivers are now rewarded for performing like a star on the road.

That brings us to Grab’s 5-Star Week for drivers. If you still haven’t heard, you stand a chance to strike the Jackpot prize if you can maintain a solid five-star rating from passengers in a week (without a single cancellation).

How to be a star

Passengers don’t just rate a safe and smooth commute. They also want to feel comfortable and relaxed inside a stranger’s car, and maybe even engaged. Although mastering the art of small talk (or the art of conquering awkward silences) is one way to get you one step closer to the Jackpot, note that not all passengers are up for a lengthy conversation. So how on Earth can you get started?

You could always check out what Uncle Lim and Grab’s very own secret agent James Bong got up to.

Otherwise, we have an even more comprehensive guide on how a star driver can talk his way to 5-star rating in different situations.


Situation # 1: ‘Just take me from Point A to Point B.’


Passengers don’t like to waste time. Most of them have deadlines to meet and half are running late. In this situation, passengers need an assurance that the driver can do his job well, while they reply emails or make business calls. Keep your eyes on the road, stay focused, and humble brag a little about your driving background.

Have you been driving for a decade? Know of a shortcut to shave five precious minutes off the commute? Got a run-in with a crazy passenger lately? Use this to ‘test water’ and see how responsive they are. Some passengers would ask follow-up questions and that’s your cue to proceed.

Situation # 2: “Awkward Silence”


Awkward silences don’t get enough credit. It is perfectly okay. If you’re getting lukewarm responses after initiating a conversation, retreat graciously. Drop them a quick apology for interrupting their work-on-the-go or their power nap. Then, tell them you have a bad habit of yakking away like a RadioOne Asia sometimes, and you should really leave them to whatever they were doing. You might get extra brownie points for being mindful and attempting closure.

Situation #3 : “Millennial: Too busy on my phone.”


Ah, millennials. Probably the most interesting bunch of people you’ll encounter in your Grab career. They’re smart, savvy, non-conforming and in the know about practically everything. Of course, there are others who are simply plugged into their own bubble with a pair of headphones and their iPhones (take a hint and don’t engage in this case).

Speaking of being plugged in, pre-empt them by preparing Spotify playlists of various genres. Give them a choice of what they would like to listen to. They’ll appreciate it, really. Show them that you, too, are in tune with trends. When you guys are gaining momentum in the conversation, or if you hit a roadblock, try getting their opinions. Since they’re always Googling or Instagramming stuff, they should know exactly which bubble tea franchise offers the best iced milk tea for you to beat the heat and stay awake.  

Situation # 4 Wah lau eh! Got hear the news or not…”


Sometimes, you don’t find the conversations. The conversations find you. There are many passengers who know more about current affairs than you think, and whatever that is being heard on the radio could spark off a comment. As a driver, you also feel obliged to offer your armchair commentary A.K.A complaints about, say, the annual salaries our ministers are earning. So, start subscribing to news feeds.

There’s nothing more relevant and relatable than bonding over things that affect Singaporeans’ daily lives. You know what they say, misery loves company.

Situation # 5: “TGIF! TGIF!”


If you’re one of those drivers who only start shifts at night, you’ve probably seen your fair share of heavily dolled up young ladies or heavily hair gelled young men stepping into your car. The destination flashed on your Grab app would read ‘Clarke Quay’. Our point is, sometimes, the destination can give you a pretty good idea what your passengers are up to and you can easily kick start a conversation by drawing an assumption. “So, tonight go Zouk chiong, ah?” Along the way, recount those ‘back in the day’ stories of how you could polish off a tray of Graveyards and still be able to walk in a straight line.

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Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

Komsan Chiyadis

GrabFood delivery-partner, Thailand

COVID-19 has dealt an unprecedented blow to the tourism industry, affecting the livelihoods of millions of workers. One of them was Komsan, an assistant chef in a luxury hotel based in the Srinakarin area.

As the number of tourists at the hotel plunged, he decided to sign up as a GrabFood delivery-partner to earn an alternative income. Soon after, the hotel ceased operations.

Komsan has viewed this change through an optimistic lens, calling it the perfect opportunity for him to embark on a fresh journey after his previous job. Aside from GrabFood deliveries, he now also picks up GrabExpress jobs. It can get tiring, having to shuttle between different locations, but Komsan finds it exciting. And mostly, he’s glad to get his income back on track.