They always say you’re not supposed to discuss politics, sex or religion in polite company. I completely disagree. What are you supposed to talk about? How long can you talk about the weather, your job or your family – assuming you have one – before you start feeling fathomless boredom?
No – I’d choose a heated debate with friends, family, or even mere acquaintances on any of the “taboo subjects” over any silly chit-chat. I also lately realized that the only people I end up remembering are those I had a conversation on one of these topics, even if our personal passions revealed we stood on opposite sides of the debate.
Your political and religious beliefs, as well as your take on sex, determine a person on a much deeper and personal level than, say, your job. In other words, these opinions are what makes you interesting.
If you happen to be practicing your dream job, then yes, your work will probably be something worth talking about. Your passion for your job, your talents and your interests will probably result in an engaging conversation. But so many people work in mundane 9-5 jobs they never chose and usually don’t care to talk about. I’ve never met an accountant who spoke at length about crunching numbers. No offence to accountants.
Bringing up your family tree (husband, kids, mum, dad) is just as risky. If the person sitting/standing next to you doesn’t have a partner or kids, they will stick to nodding politely, searching desperately through the crowd for a friend to rescue them. Believe me, I’ve been there more than once. Any discussion on relations one does not know personally that lasts more than 20 minutes can create as much annoyance as any forward opinion on sexual behavior.
The weather? “The weather is amazing today, isn’t it?”. “Yes, we went walking with Chris at the park all day.” Who cares?
“I think Berlusconi is a laughable little idiot!”. Now that’s something to stir a conversation.