Picture this: you see someone at some sort of social gathering and you want to give a good first impression. As you approach them, your hands get all sweaty and your back crawls with chills. You are excited and nervous. You tentatively introduce yourself and they do the same.
You both discuss work but then the conversation comes to a crashing halt when there is an awkward silence. Desperate, you start talking about things that may catch their attention. You bring up how many people you slept with in your life, how much money you make, why Republicans suck, how you are dealing with your depression with your non-helpful therapist and how weird Scientology is and that it should be put down.
The least you'll get is a blank stare as a response, but it is guaranteed you won't hear from that person ever again. Saying any of these five taboos in a conversation with someone you want to impress (especially at a workplace) is not the wisest decision. Of course, there are times you may just click with someone and you can tell them these taboos to spice up the conversation.
However, there are classy ways when presenting each subject.
With sex, the topic is a double-edged sword. Getting close and personal with what you do in the bedroom and how you like it is just overbearing. Discussing past affairs or relationships and having an STD are also big no-no's. You can be more flirtatious and mysterious about this subject. Show, but don't tell (not literally), otherwise, you'll scare a potential date.
On the subject of religion, you need to be careful about what beliefs you are treading on if you have a strong opinion. Having some knowledge of cultural appropriation would not hurt. With religion, there's a whole mother-load of history and culture that comes with it. So, keep your wits about you, and pick up a history book.
Politics is basically a minefield, especially in these dark times. First off, know that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Do not go into conversation guns blazing about how this and that needs to be changed and how that one politician just sucks. You'll quickly become a gadfly and attract negative energy. Be educated, polite and reserved. Flush out the retorts and emotion, and calmly state your opinion.
Who doesn't love money? Who doesn't want to be rich? Who doesn't want to compare how much they make? I don't. It seems tacky to talk about how much you make. Mentioning how much you make is like being the smart kid exclaiming out loud to the whole class, "I got an A!" People don't like to compare themselves, especially when they feel less successful. Just avoid this subject and only mention it with your family and very close friends.
With personal issues, it's very tempting to talk about your stress after a long difficult day. But you may come off as being insecure and this subject can make other people feel uneasy. Do not expose yourself to being vulnerable, no one wants to deal with that because they too may be struggling in their own ways.
To impress someone, you need to wield confidence, that is the best weapon in your arsenal. Being knowledgeable, respectful, polite and if possible, being witty can help you harness the dynamics of the conversation. Who knows, you may even end up with a date or get your dream job if you play your cards right.
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