Conversation Topics to Avoid in English

When you’re learning a new language, there are all sorts of things to keep in mind (remember, think about). New vocabulary, conversation starters, pronunciation tips… there’s so much to think about when trying to form a sentence. However, there are a few things you don’t have to wonder about at all! Mainly, there are a few conversation topics to avoid (not speak about) when speaking with native English speakers.

Of course, these conversation topics to avoid don’t apply when speaking with good friends, but it’s always good to test the waters (try) first to make sure you don’t offend anyone! Here are some conversation topics to steer clear of (avoid) when speaking with native English speakers.

Religion

Religion can be a very contentious (controversial, hot) topic with people. Some people believe in a god, some do not, and some aren’t sure what they believe. People believe very strongly in their religions or lack thereof, as “belief” is a very personal choice. Because of this, it can sometimes be difficult to talk to people about their belief systems since they tie this so closely to them personally.

This means that it is a good idea to avoid the topic of religion with people you don’t know that well. Doing so (avoiding this topic) can keep your professional relationships intact (unhurt, the same) and prevent (stop) you from having any uncomfortable conversations.

Gossip

It’s always a good idea to avoid gossiping, (even if you are a native speaker!), but it bears repeating (it is worth saying again). Talking about other people can only get you into trouble, because uncannily (in a strange/mysterious way), things have a way of getting back to people.

So what does gossiping include? Gossip is the idle chat about other people – good, bad, or indifferent- especially if they are not there. But when we talk about gossip, we are usually referring to the negative talk about people.

This could be talking about someone’s weight, their appearance (in a negative way), discussing their private issues with other people, telling someone else’s secrets, etc. Really, one should just try to avoid speaking negatively about people at all costs (completely, no matter what).

I always try to think of the golden rule: treat others as you would want to be treated. If you wouldn’t want something said about you, don’t say it about someone else. This way, it should be one of the easier conversation topics to avoid.

Politics

Talking about politics can be a very, very tricky situation and is one of best examples of conversation topics to avoid. Much like religion, people take their politics very seriously, since politics have a lot to do with how people see the world and how they think the world should be run. Politics in the United States is often tied very closely to religion, so people feel very personally connected to their political choices.

Talking about politics is such a big no-no (a no-go, off the table) that many families don’t even talk about politics together, as it can turn a peaceful family dinner into a shouting match (yelling session).

If you want to talk about politics with someone, I would check two things first: try to find out if they have similar views to you, and if they don’t, make sure that they’re someone you can have a calm conversation with. If things are just going to devolve (break down, go down, turn down) into an argument, it’s most likely not worth starting the conversation.

However, it can be good to talk about politics and religion with people you trust and admire, especially if they have different views than you do. Being able to open up lines of communication with people who have a different perspective than you do can be an enlightening (eye-opening, new) experience that can help expand your own views. This is an ideal situation and is always how progress in a society is made.

Do you have a list of conversation topics to avoid when speaking with people? Why? Share them with us in the comments below!

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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and is relieved that she lives in a country where facts matter in conversation and there are fewer conversation topics to avoid! 🙂 🙂 

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