Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Topics to avoid for a good conversation

One of the most under-rated things about growing up is knowing just how useful it is having a mother to guide you through different social situations. You may not realize it at the time and you still may not even realize it now, however, the ability to have her over your shoulder reminding you to think before you speak every time you’re about to really drop yourself in it in front of your grandparents or friends is invaluable. The problem with growing up is that we often find ourselves in social situations and, whereas in our heads the words may seem completely sound and even at times intelligent, in reality once those words leave your lips you suddenly realize you may not have chosen the ideal topic at that moment.
How many times have you been so desperate to ignite a conversation that you start up a seemingly innocent discussion on a certain topic only to see the entire mood of the table go dead? Or worse, the entire room goes silent upon hearing your statement or question on a specific topic. That silence is akin to the same silence that follows the visuals of an atom bomb just before the explosion rocks your ears or the eeriness that comes with the silence in the eye of a storm. Thankfully you can avoid these explosive conversation destroyers by simply avoiding the dangerous topics for good conversation listed below.

Political Policies
Considering most politicians have both good and bad points and that no matter how many parties the UK actually has, it’s pretty fair to assume that almost anybody you meet is either Pro Labour or Conservative. This gives you less than a 50% chance of meeting someone with the same political view as you. Either way, it’s a topical double-edged sword. If they are of an opposing party they’re going to argue with you and disagree with your general views on a number of topics. If they agree with you the conversation is dead anyway. Politics is a no-no.

Religious Riots
In a similar vein to politics, religion is either something you agree on or something that could start a pretty unfriendly conversation. Bearing in mind that more wars have been fought over religion than politics it’s a fair conclusion to assume that this topic should probably be avoided more than the previous. Considering most religion comes down to belief all you’re really arguing about is who has the better invisible friend. This can be a very touchy subject and is really one to avoid.

Equality Everywhere
Whether you do go out of your way to promote equal rights across the planet or your idea of helping others is to simply avoid shouting at the charity workers that accost you to help out in struggling nations when you see them in the street, you are likely to find that most people you meet are as unwilling to speak to you about the worlds problems as they are unwilling to listen to the charity collectors speeches.

Work Worries
No matter how bad your job is or how much your boss sucks and micro-manages everything you do, try to resist the urge to tell every sympathetic ear the ins and outs of your worries. The truth is, most people are also tired of working every day and the last thing they want is to sit and listen to your stories about how bad your day was. You’ll only succeed in boring them with situations they really couldn’t care about. The only thing possibly worse than this to bring up in good conversation is how much you love your job, as all you’ll end up doing is rubbing their own miserable job in their faces.

Insulting Innocents
No one likes to sit and listen to people criticising others. It only paints a really bad picture of the person doing the insulting. They probably don’t know the person in question, which only makes them wonder if they really are as bad as you tell them they are. If they do happen to know the person in question they only begin wondering if you talk about others behind their back as well. If you’re going to spend time talking about others try to make it positive at least that way people assume you only hang around cool and interesting people.

Personal Problems
As interesting as your warts may be to yourself, it’s a pretty safe bet that whoever you’re talking to is unlikely to find it a remarkably interesting conversation. Personal worries are unfortunately something that tends to dwell deeply on our minds and, although the old logic of a problem shared is a problem halved, you have to understand that the half you give away gets given to the other person who then has to dwell on it, worry about it and even worse visualise the problem for themselves.
As great as our parents may have been about guiding our conversations the fact is that sooner or later we have to fend for ourselves. Without being told why certain topics are off limits we often make the mistake of using them anyway to disastrous effect. However, our elders weren’t correct on every topic. You may have been told to avoid the topics of sex and drugs whilst growing up due to them both being taboo. With modern society being what it is these are not only no longer awkward subjects but actually topics that people can relate to.
The basics of understanding good conversation are to avoid any topic that will leave someone else feeling awkward or which may give them reason to disagree with you. Of course this may not lead to extremely riveting discussions but it will give you polite dinner conversation that won’t completely destroy the mood at the table. Obviously these are just guidelines. The truth is that topics fade in and out of being taboo and with sex and drugs now being viewed as risqué but acceptable, who knows? At some point it may become acceptable to talk about your personal hygiene issues over dinner. But for now it’s probably best to stick to The Pussy Cat Doll’s latest music video.

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