Holiday Conversation dos and don’ts

Betty Lochner blog

Holiday conversations can be tricky. This week’s post is written by Arden Clise. It includes spot on advice and tips to use as we gather in person with our friends and family “bubble” or virtually this holiday season.

Holiday Conversation Dos and Don’ts

As we mingle and dine this holiday season there are other conversation we should stay away from. One of my colleagues always sends me funny retorts related to my newsletter etiquette points and this time it was related to inappropriate conversation topics. I thought they were so spot on I’d share them.

Inappropriate Conversation Topics

Did I see you downtown recently dining with a nice looking lady? Was that your administrative assistant?

Put this one under the category of none of your business and never make assumptions. It could have been his daughter.

Your makeup is wonderful and makes you look at least 20 years younger! What brand do you use?

This one is just plain insulting.

I’ll add to his list.

Do you have kids? No? Why not?

The kid topic can be a very sensitive subject for people. Some people desperately want kids and can’t have them. Others chose not to have kids. Don’t make people feel badly for their choices or to have to reflect on the pain of not being able to have kids.

So, what do you think of Trump’s cabinet picks?

This falls under controversial topics, namely politics. Never assume someone shares your same political beliefs (trust me; I learned this the hard way which I wrote about in my book – Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth). Politics is always a heated topic, but especially this election season. Stay away from this mine field, and add religion to the list as well.

Little Johnny is great. He’s in the AP program at his school. He’s very smart for his age. We think he’ll be president someday.

This is bragging. It’s wonderful to be proud of your children or your other accomplishments, but don’t shout about them.

Here are the photos I took of my dog playing in the snow. Isn’t he cute?!

Boring!! It’s the rare person who really wants to look at the pictures you took of your dog, cat, kids, vacation…you name it. Unless they ask, don’t offer. And even if they ask, show just a couple.

What a beautiful ring. How much did you pay for it?

Money is another verboten topic. It’s none of your business and can make people feel very uncomfortable. Someone actually asked me this question. I was very uncomfortable.

What can I talk about?

You might be thinking, well then what do I talk about? Believe it or not, there are still plenty of juicy topics to discuss. Here are some suggestions:

  • How do you like to celebrate the holidays?
  • What was the best thing that happened to you this year?
  • What are some family holiday traditions you follow?
  • What’s a favorite childhood holiday memory?
  • What are you looking forward to next year?

And, to be a truly great conversationalist, you need to be a good listener. When you ask these questions, really listen and be appropriately curious. Delve deeper and I guarantee you’ll discover some interesting things about people.

Happy mingling!


Betty Lochner is a human resources consultant, business coach, and expert in workplace communications. She offers several online courses to help individuals and teams communicate better. She is the author of two books on communication, and a newly published journal, Intentional Gratitude.

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