12 Topics to Avoid in Conversation With People You Just Met

By Matthew Mansour

Reviewed, fact-checked & edited by Lenny Terra.
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We’ve all been in that situation where we’re talking to someone and suddenly realize that we’re on dangerous ground. Before you know it, you’ve said something you wish you could take back. To help make sure this doesn’t happen to you, here are 12 topics to avoid in conversation.

Weight and dieting.

Weight and dieting

Never ask someone how much they weigh or comment on their weight. It’s rude, insensitive, and can be hurtful. It’s not polite to inquire about someone’s weight, and it’s even less so to comment on their weight.

Even if you’re just trying to make a compliment, it can backfire. For example, saying, “You look like you’ve lost weight,” can make the person think you were concerned about their weight before.

After all, everyone has a different relationship with their weight, and what might be seen as a harmless comment could be hurtful.

Dieting is another related topic that should be avoided. Even asking someone if they’re dieting can be intrusive, and it’s best to steer clear of any conversation about weight or dieting altogether.

So, next time you’re engaging in small talk, avoid the topic of weight altogether. It’s just not worth risking offending someone. Stick to compliments that have nothing to do with appearance, such as “you’re hilarious” or “you have great taste in music.”

Age (yours or theirs).

Just as with weight, age is another topic that’s best left unmentioned. It’s impolite to ask someone how old they are, and it can be equally rude to comment on someone’s age. Whether you’re trying to guess someone’s age or make a statement about your age, it’s best to avoid the topic altogether.

Even if you think you’re paying someone a compliment by guessing that they’re younger than they are, it’s still not appropriate. Age can be a touchy subject for some people, especially as they get older.

They might not want to share their age because they’re self-conscious about it. Or, they might not want to reveal how old they are because they don’t want to be judged. Either way, it’s best to avoid the topic of age altogether.

And commenting on your age can make the other person feel uncomfortable, as they may not know how to respond. So, it’s best to keep this information to yourself.

It’s rude to talk about money.

Talking about salary is another big no-no. It’s considered rude to ask someone how much they make, and revealing how much you make is even more disrespectful. This topic is best left for private conversations with people you know well.

Salary can be a sensitive subject for a lot of people. Some might be embarrassed about how much they make, while others might be uncomfortable with the disparity between their salary and someone else’s.

If you must discuss money, do so in generalities and avoid asking specific questions about someone’s income or financial situation. Either way, it’s best to avoid the topic altogether.

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Relationships and exes.

This is a tricky one because relationships are such a big part of our lives. But some parts of relationships are best left unsaid, at least in conversation. For example, it’s probably not a good idea to ask someone how they met their significant other or what their “type” is.

Relationships are deeply personal topics, and people can be quite private about them. Asking too many questions about someone’s relationship can make them feel uncomfortable or even threatened.

If you must discuss relationships, stick to general topics such as “What’s it like being in a long-term relationship?” or “How do you know when you’re ready to settle down?”

You should also avoid discussing past relationships when you’re first getting to know someone romantically. It can be a minefield, and it’s best to steer clear until you know each other better.

Discussing good and bad exes can give your date the wrong impression, and it’s also likely to stir up some negative emotions. It’s far better to focus on the present and get to know each other in the here and now. That way, you can start your relationship on a positive note.

Religion (yours or theirs).

Religion

For a good reason, religion is often seen as a taboo topic. It can be a sensitive subject, and people of different faiths can have wildly divergent views on a whole range of issues. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and avoid controversial topics like religion when you’re meeting someone new. 

However, many people are happy to talk about their religion and view it as an essential part of their identity.

For this reason, unless you’re quite confident that everyone in the discussion is OK with the subject, it’s better to steer clear of talking about religion.

If you do broach the subject, be respectful of other people’s beliefs and be prepared for the discussion to take some unexpected turns.

Remember that you can’t control other people’s reactions, so it’s best to avoid potentially controversial topics altogether.

Politics.

Politics is another divisive topic that’s best avoided in conversation, especially when you’re meeting someone new.

People tend to have strong opinions on politics and are often not afraid to voice them. This can lead to heated debates and even arguments, which is the last thing you want when trying to make a good impression.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you’re at a political event or gathering, then it’s probably okay to talk about politics. But generally, it’s best to avoid the topic when meeting someone new.

However, there are times when discussing these topics is unavoidable, such as during an election season. In these cases, it is vital to respect other people’s opinions and avoid taking sides. This can be difficult, but it is worth remembering that not everyone shares the same beliefs.

By showing respect for others, we can help to create a more civil society, and when done correctly, talking about politics can be a stimulating and enlightening experience.

Family problems.

Family problems

Some topics are just best avoided in conversation, especially when you’re getting to know someone new. Family problems fall into this category.

Nobody wants to hear about the drama with your parents, siblings, or extended family members. Not only is it potentially depressing, but it’s also a major turn-off. 

Above all, it’s best to keep the conversation light and avoid discussing anything too heavy or personal if you’re looking for a relationship.

Stick to topics everyone can relate to, such as your favorite TV shows, movies, or books. This will help you connect with the other person and build rapport. Family problems are best left for another time when you know each other better.

Health issues.

Health issues are another sensitive topic best avoided in conversation, especially when you’re first getting to know someone. This is because health problems can be a very personal and intimate subject.

Discussing them too soon can make the other person uncomfortable, and it’s also likely to bring up negative emotions. For example, if you’re suffering from an illness, you might not want to talk about it with someone you’ve just met. Or, if you have a family member who is sick, you might not want to burden the other person with your problems.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. If you have a visible health condition, such as a disability, then it’s probably best to mention it early on. This will avoid any awkwardness or misunderstandings later on.

And if you’re discussing health problems in a general sense, such as mental health, it’s essential to be respectful and considerate of other people’s experiences.

Generally, it’s best to avoid discussing health problems in conversation unless you are sure everyone involved is comfortable with the topic.

If you do broach the subject, be respectful of other people’s privacy and be prepared for the discussion to take some unexpected turns.

One-upmanship.

Have you ever been in a conversation where someone starts bragging about themselves? Or maybe they try to one-up you by talking about how they’re better than you in some way. That’s called one-upmanship, and it’s generally considered to be bad manners. 

One-upmanship is the act of trying to make yourself seem better than someone else by bragging or comparing yourself favorably to them. In addition to being impolite, it may also make the other person feel awkward or even humiliated.

There are some issues you should avoid discussing if you don’t want to seem like a braggart. These include talking about how much money you make, how successful you are, or how much smarter or better-looking you are than others.

This is a major turn-off in conversation, and it’s something that you should avoid at all costs. Not only is it off-putting, but it can also lead to conflict and arguments.

One-upmanship often happens when people are trying to impress others or feel insecure. If you find yourself doing it, try to take a step back and focus on the other person.

Instead of thinking about what you can say to make yourself look good, think about what would be interesting or valuable for the other person to know. This will help you to have a more genuine and enjoyable conversation.

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Death and tragedy.

Death and tragedy are two topics that should be avoided in conversation, especially if you’re trying to make a good impression.

While it’s perfectly normal to talk about these things with close friends and family, discussing them with people you don’t know well is generally considered bad manners.

This is because death and tragedy can be upsetting and uncomfortable for people to talk about. Nobody wants to be reminded of their mortality or think about the possibility of losing a loved one. And even if someone has experienced tragedy firsthand, they may not want to relive those painful memories.

There are a few topics that you should avoid if you want to avoid seeming insensitive. These include talking about death, violence, or other tragic events. This is a major turn-off in conversation, and it’s something that you should avoid at all costs.

If you find yourself discussing death or tragedy, try to focus on the positive. Instead of talking about the latest news story, talk about something you’re grateful for. This will help you to have a more positive and enjoyable conversation.

Gossip.

Gossip is another conversation topic that should be avoided, especially if you’re trying to make a good impression.

Gossip

Gossip is defined as idle talk or rumors about other people and is generally considered harmful and hurtful. Not only can it damage relationships, but it can also lead to conflict and arguments.

If you want to avoid coming across as gossip, there are a few topics that you should avoid. These include discussing other people’s personal lives, relationships, or appearances.

This is a major turn-off in conversation, and it’s something that you should avoid at all costs. If you are talking about someone else, focus on the positive.

Instead of gossiping about the latest drama in your friend’s life, talk about something that you admire about them. This will help you to have a more positive and enjoyable conversation.

Drugs and alcohol.

Some topics of conversation are best avoided, especially when you are getting to know someone new. One such topic is drugs and alcohol.

While it is true that many people enjoy socializing over a few drinks, discussing drug use can be a sensitive subject. Alcohol consumption is legal in most countries, but many people still do not drink for personal or religious reasons.

Similarly, while recreational drug use is becoming increasingly accepted, it is still controversial and can be a touchy subject.

It’s important to respect others’ boundaries and avoid topics that might make someone uncomfortable.

It is best to avoid discussing drugs and alcohol with new acquaintances until you get to know them better and can gauge their comfort level with the topic.

Conclusion.

To create a favorable impression, it’s best to steer clear of these subjects. While some topics are fair game between family members and friends, bringing them up in casual conversation with strangers is often considered rude.

That’s because many individuals find talking about such things distressing and awkward. Keep a positive tone if you must talk about any of these subjects.

Talk about something you’re thankful for rather than the latest news. This will help you to have a more positive and enjoyable conversation.

Thanks for reading!

Author

  • Matthew Mansour

    Matthew Mansour is a professional life coach, fitness trainer, health coach, a blogger with over 800 articles published to date. He enjoys reading and researching books that are reflective of the nature of who we are as humans, understanding the complexity of our minds, and using it as an advantage to propel us forward in life. He is a self-help enthusiast and he is not ashamed about it! He’s always looking for his next fix of inspiration, motivation, insight, and wisdom from those who have been there before him! He also does a lot of courses and research on the latest and greatest in the area of self-help, life coaching, and health. He likes to share his discoveries with anyone who is interested in listening! His personal goal is to help people achieve great results in their lives, that is why he also has a blog about self-improvement. He loves animals and he currently lives in New Jersey with his loving wife and his recently born child.

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