6 things you should never talk about, plus 2 of my own

This American Life’s producer Sarah Koenig's mother lives by a set of rules about conversation, including an actual list of off-limits topics.


I want to go on record as supporting this list wholeheartedly.

The list:

  1. Diet
  2. Health
  3. Your period
  4. Sleep
  5. Dreams
  6. Route talk, which is discussion of the route you took to arrive at your destination.

Of all the items on the list, I find route talk and dreams tied for the most egregious of offenses, but they are all admittedly dreadful. 

She actually has a seventh item on the list, money, which This American Life excludes from the show, and I agree. Discussions about the stock market, the health of certain businesses and even recommendations on how to lower insurance costs or where to buy the cheapest cantaloupe are all fair game.

But I’d like to add two items to the list:

  • Weather
  • Sales pitches

While there are occasionally reasons to talk about the weather when it is most extreme, those times are few and far between. Err on the side of caution and find something else to discuss. 

And the last thing I ever want to hear is a sales pitch for the products that you sell or for products that you want me to sell for you as part of some pyramid scheme. While there is nothing wrong with these businesses (except for this), the friends of such salespeople should be awarded a permanent zone of protection from any and all such sales pitches. Otherwise we feel like we are being taken advantage of, ALWAYS, regardless of what assurances we offer that we are do not.