Taboo Chat - what can we talk about nowadays?

It’s common knowledge to avoid taboo chat with people you have just met. The classic subjects being sex, politics and religion. If you know a crowd well you can consider making a different judgement; some of these areas can open up a lively and interesting debate, but for new acquaintances you need to play it safe.

What about the subject of Money?

Nowadays it no longer appears to be crass and it is more accepted to discuss the price of your house and the cost of your recent holiday, but as I mature I feel less comfortable about it.

You also need to consider who is party to the conversation – you don’t know what that person might be experiencing, especially in the current economic climate, and you could appear insensitive to others.

So taboo chat can also be based on your surroundings and can alter depending on who you are with.

What about sexist jokes?

Sexual or sexist jokes can be amusing if told amongst good friends, I don't have a problem with the odd joke about blondes and I take it in good spirit, if it is delivered by someone I know well.

However, not everyone appreciates these and it is good advice to keep these in your pocket until you know someone better.

Pay even more attention if you are at a work event, you could find yourself in a sexual harassment case if you cross the line. Years ago this would normally be against a man but nowadays it could quite easily be against a woman.

What about Religion?

Religion is an interesting one and many people feel that this is taboo chat. I actually find others people’s religions fascinating and I enjoy hearing about the ceremonies and beliefs, it opens my mind to other possibilities.

I have a very good friend who is Sikh and I regularly chat with him about it. However, taking an interest in someone else’s culture and challenging their belief system is very different.

If you are genuinely interested and they appear happy to talk about it then go for it, but test the water first.

What about Personal Problems?

Have you ever asked someone the rhetorical question “How are you?” and wished 20 minutes later you hadn’t? I think we have all experienced this.

Discussing your personal ins and outs is definitely taboo chat with new acquaintances and should be kept for your closest confidant. No-one really wants to know about the stomach upset you have just got over.

Good Conversation Etiquette means letting people have something of you but not everything. That doesn’t mean to say you should embellish everything with sugar coating but it does mean you should try and talk about positive, interesting experiences.

Other Social Etiquette Skills to learn on this site:

Introduction Etiquette

Cheek Kissing Traditions

Social Faux Pas

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About The Author

The Author, Emma Dupont, runs various courses in London during the year.

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