Word Vomit: Topics That Are Better Left Unsaid

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(CC) Image courtesy theritters

The social aspect of  communications is one of the many reasons I was attracted to working in public relations.  It’s also one of the many reasons why I love Twitter.  I’ve attended many tweets up and happy hours simply to meet some of my favorite people.  Heck, I even drove with Kate and TJ to visit some fabulous friends in Boston who at the time I only knew via Twitter.

It wasn’t until recently that I noticed an excessive amount of “word vomit,” the act of putting one’s foot in thy mouth, at these tweet ups and happy hours that made me second guess the information I divulge when first meeting someone.  We may talk to each other every day but do we really trust each other?  How much word vomit is just too much before others start judging?  When networking or socializing with new friends here are some topics you may want to exclude:

  • Politics/Religion. We work in communications so chances are we have an opinion and have no problem voicing it.  These are topics I would keep behind doors until you really know someone.  Often times conversations that involve politics result in a heavy debate.  Unfortunately too many people like to debate without letting bygones be bygones.
  • Why you hate your job. Are you having  a bad day?  Did you only get four hours of sleep?  Stop.  We have *all* been there.  It’s exhausting to listen to someone complain about their day.  If you have to a) don’t use names and b) ask for ways your colleagues can help resolve the problem.  At least that’s a constructive conversation.  (Note: be careful who and what you talk about.  You never know who will find out.)

I’m sure there are other topics that we should avoid when meeting for the first time, so I encourage you to add them below.  If you find yourself in a sticky situation and you don’t like where the conversation is going here are topics that can help:

  • Hobbies. Are you in a band?  Do you love Elvis Presley (I do)?  If we’ve connected on social networks chances are it was due to common interests.  Everyone likes to talk about things they’re passionate about.
  • Pop culture. We’re in PR.  We need to know about pop culture and everyone loves to gossip.  Just don’t do it about people you really know.  Famous people are fair game.
  • Your bucket list. So many people today are creating their bucket lists.  It’s amazing to find out the little and big things people want to do before they die.  Chances are you’ll find out new and exciting adventures you’d like to try too.

So friends, how did you survive an awkward conversation at a tweet up or meeting your social media buddy for the first time?  Please share your advice below!

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  • http://twitter.com/chromial Leonard Tyson

    punk kids
    back in my day people knew better than to bring up politics or religion in polite conversation

    • Anonymous

      Punk kids? I’d have to argue that there are just as many punk adults. :)

      Agree though, avoid the two in polite conversation.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Stina! I also think a fun topic is celebrity crushes and sports.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly! That can fall under the pop culture bullet :).

  • http://dfolkens.wordpress.com/ Dave Folkens

    My favorite awkward conversation where I just stared stunned was when someone I just met (and didn’t really even know online) proceeded to rip into their current boss, explain how they really just didn’t want to work all that hard, and then ask me if I could make introductions for them. Ummmm, no.

    You’d think it’s somewhat common sense but I think people can just get nervous or overly comfortable when meeting someone the first time because you’ve chatted online. It’s important to be yourself and indeed share what your interests are but know that a first impression sticks with people for a long time. News of the day, movies, music, sports are all topics you can roll with pretty safely without having to avoid ever talking to someone again thanks to a train wreck of a first chat.

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Ahhh, the benefits of anonymity….

  • http://twitter.com/CTMichaels CTMichaels

    I love talking about politics and how other people are wrong with their views ;-) Religion, nope no way. I like to talk about poop, and what I’m eating for dinner and how amazing it will be. I also like to talk about myself…a lot

  • http://twitter.com/StephanieFlo Stephanie Florence

    Great suggestions and the common interests point is already proof that this works. I have found a new appreciation for Elvis since visiting Graceland and having him on an XM station. We will have to chat more one day : )

    -Stephanie
    @StephanieFlo

  • http://twitter.com/thisgirlsarah Sarah Howard

    This is really interesting and something that everyone should become more and more aware of! I think a lot of times people feel more comfortable online because you don’t have to have face to face interactions so they feel safer talking about anything. Consideration as to how we would act if we saw that person face to face is a good rule of thumb to post by.Thanks for the ideas!

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