Manners in Conversation: Dangerous Topics

I am sometimes asked about general guidelines for conversation for those times when one may have to be around others whose views and beliefs are unknown to you. It is always better to be circumspect; remember the goal of all etiquette is to put people at ease. Here are a few items to be extremely careful of when chatting!

  1. Money is a dangerous topic, especially directly asking someone what something costs or how much they earn. The person who is asked such questions, has every right to ignore the asker. 
  2. Age is a subject to be deftly avoided due to the sensitivity some people have about their age. Let’s face it, yes…if you are entering a contract with someone, then the question is appropriate, but not in general social situations. If someone asks you how old you are, feel free to ignore this one, too. 
  3. Gossip can cause all sorts of problems. Avoid being the spreader of this muck. Want to stop a gossiper? Ask them pointedly “How do you know this?” It is funny how most gossipers won’t be able to answer.
  4. Advice is only given if it is asked for, and even then, I’d be uncomfortable giving it.
  5. Religion and politics….avoid at all costs. Yes, even in this time of wicked polarization on both subjects.
  6. Avoid criticizing your own family members publicly, even if you do not like them. I can’t tell you how many business deals have been lost due to the optics this causes. Why would anyone want to do business with someone who has no loyalty to their family?

Best Conversational Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

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