It can be extremely easy to avoid discussing difficult topics altogether. In today’s increasingly easily offended world, it can be scary to express your opinions on taboo topics even though open discussion can often lead to progression. We see some of the unfortunate souls who dare share their opinions get berated on internet and we think, nope, not worth it!

But what about situations where we have no choice but to talk about uncomfortable topics? Maybe we’re missing out on vital information that affects our finances because we’re afraid to talk about money for example.

Perhaps a friend wants to uncover the reasons why they have self-destructive habits but they feel they can’t openly talk about their issues. Sometimes the avoiding the very conversation we don’t want to have is holding us back in life.

Whether its abut sexuality, money, religion or politics if we can be honest with our communities then how do we expect to progress? This doesn’t mean we have to blast our sordid secrets to everyone or force others to have difficult conversations with us if they don’t want to, but perhaps we can equip ourselves with the right mindset and conversation skills to handle talking about taboo topics in respectful and constructive ways.

We’ve outlined 7 examples below of how you can safely discuss taboo topics without causing offense. As with all types of conversations, it can be difficult to predict the responses of others, and whilst the examples below are well-thought out and tactful, there will always be some people who choose to take offense.

We advise that you read the verbal and non-verbal cues of other when talking about sensitive issues, these examples aim to offer you suggestions of how to put your best foot forward:

Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.

This article was originally published on https://nevertherightword.com. If this article appears on any other site other than https://nevertherightword.com without clear referencing it is a violation of the copyright owned by https://nevertherightword.com.

This article may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy a product, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Never the Right Word is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. For more information, please view our Privacy Policy and disclosure page.

Example 1 | Creating a Safe Space When Talking About Mental Health

 

If you’re happy to talk about this with me, I’d like to see the world from your perspective.

How does that make you feel?/…and that makes you feel?

What do you think would have to change in order for you/others to feel better?

With mental health becoming an important issue in today’s society, it would benefit us all if we can create safe spaces to openly discuss what’s really going on. Unfortunately, mental health is still considered a topic that shouldn’t be openly spoken about, leaving many who suffer with problems to suffer in silence.

In the U.S. 1 in 5  adults experience mental illness each year and in the UK this increases to approximately 1 in 4 people; it’s clear to see that mental health issues affect a sizable portion of western society. 

Fear of judgement, negative stigmas and misunderstandings can play a huge role in keeping people quiet therefore, seeking to understand by using supportive statements phrased as open-ended questions can help open up a dialogue.

When discussing mental health with people be sure to not jump to conclusions or diagnosis, this can end up shutting down the conversation and can result in (the very thing you’re trying to avoid), causing offense.

As always, if you are concerned with the mental state of someone it’s important that that person seeks professional help from a qualified practitioner.

Example 2 | Reserving Judgment When Talking About Sexuality

 

What are your experiences as a [Insert Variable]?

Sex is a natural human interaction. There is nothing wrong with being reserved when it comes to discussing about ins and outs of bodies, however sexuality should never be used against people.

People shouldn’t feel ashamed for being sexual beings whether it’s to do with their preferences or behaviors and so forth; and nobody should feel shame for the natural way in which their body operates.

Talking openly and honestly without judgement about sexuality is a sure-fire way of reducing the discomfort and anxieties surrounding the topic. It also gives us a barometer to detect when certain situations, behaviors or relationships really are unhealthy and ought to be reconsidered.

Disagreeing with others, listening to other perspectives and experiences is how we all learn.

If you want to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the "Improving Your Conflict Competence" video course from LinkedIn Learning. Check out the preview below:

Click here for full access to "Improving Your Conflict Competence" On LinkedIn Learning
In this course, author and conflict expert Craig Runde helps you manage workplace conflict more effectively. You'll also learn important practical steps to manage your emotions and engage in a constructive way with others.

Example 3 | Respectfully Disagreeing When Discussing Politics

 

Even though it doesn’t match mine, thank you for sharing your perspective.

By being taught not to talk about politics can be problematic. We need to be able to discuss things rationally and in a productive manner if we want to progress as a society.

If we do not learn how to deal with opposing beliefs we’re likely to end up pitting ourselves as enemies toward anyone whose world view does not match ours. Much like most of the examples in this article we should always strive to listen first before we give our input.

If you want to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the "Having Difficult Conversations" video course from LinkedIn Learning. Check out the preview below:

Click here for full access to "Having Difficult Conversations" On LinkedIn Learning
Here you'll get practical advice on how to have difficult conversations with colleagues, employees, and managers. You'll learn to develop your communication skills to improve your relationships, teamwork, and business performance all from the comfort of your laptop.

Example 4 | A Case for Discussing Personal Finances

 

Money can be a weird and touchy subject. Whilst it’s a great deal easier not to discuss finances outside of your close friends and family, there are some benefits to finding out what your colleagues or potential connections make. This is for a couple of reasons; one to bench-mark where you need to value yourself, and two, to make sure you’re being compensated accordingly.

However, it would be better to tread carefully when discussing money as everyone’s relationship to their money is different, and being nosy or assuming a level of familiarity can seriously rub people up the wrong way. If you’re sharing with others how well things are going for you just be cautious to phrase things delicately and know your audience.

Example 5 | When Talking About Addiction

 

Although people who have been in close proximity with people experiencing addictions may have discovered effective ways to communicate, it is always difficult, because of the confusion addiction creates in the sufferer, and in those around them. Addiction is so stigmatized in our society, that people who have addictions automatically anticipate criticisms, insults, and rejection; therefore, be kind!

A person with an addiction is more likely to confide in you if you listen without interrupting or criticizing. Even if you do not agree with their behavior, addictions are a manifestation of something much deeper going on. Listen to the person with the addiction at least as much as speak to understand their point of view.

If you're looking to develop your communication skills for professional environments even further, we think you’ll like the following video course from LinkedIn Learning. Check out the preview below:

Click here for full access to "Managing Teams" On LinkedIn Learning
Managing a team of people in the workplace requires continuous learning for today's managers and team leaders. Learn how to bring out the best in your team, in this course with Kelley School of Business professor and corporate consultant Daisy Lovelace. Daisy explains how to set shared goals, delegate tasks, manage performance, and develop each member of the team by providing feedback and training. Instructor Daisy Lovelace also addresses the challenges and solutions to managing different types of teams: virtual, global, intergenerational, and cross-functional. Plus, find out how to manage difficult behavior and underperformance.

Example 6 | When Talking About Race

 

Whilst I don’t agree with what you’ve just said, I can see where you might have drawn that conclusion from.

What happens when we make assumptions that go unnoticed and unaddressed? Problems arise. When we feel we can’t say what we’ve heard or what we’re thinking for fear of being attacked, we let our misunderstandings get worse.

If someone says something that we find offensive, first take a look at where they’re coming from – don’t assume they have the same thought patterns and experiences as you, and then (if appropriate) gently offer a counter-argument.

If we can look at talking about race as a learning opportunity; whether it’s about how the human brain work works or how societal structures work, then we can can stop doing ourselves a disservice.

Example 7 | When Discussing Religion or Personal Beliefs

 

Not everyone who’s spiritual or religious enjoys talking about it in public, if you’re not on close personal terms you’re probably better off not bringing it up at all.

However, when getting to know people on a deeper level, people’s beliefs can be one of the most important aspects of their lives. Again, the best course of action is to ask open-ended questions, listen without judgement and only offer input when it is requested.

At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.   

If you’re interested in further reading, we’ve also included links to our trusted resources and related posts below. To find out more about NTRW and our recommended tools, you can do that here.  

Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!

Never the Right Word

Never the Right Word

Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.

In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.

You Might Like Our Other Articles...

How to Handle Conversational Narcissism

How to Handle Conversational Narcissism

We all have a friend who loves to dominate the conversation. Initially, your conversational narcissistic friend might appear to be perfect. They portray attractive qualities, such as warmth, outgoingness, openness, and a willingness to share.  Getting to know them becomes easy, and their desire to...

read more

Relevant Books We Recommend...

In Difficult Conversations: What to say in tricky situations without ruining the relationship; author Anne Dickson describes a range of difficult conversations that frequently occur in intimate, social and work situations, and reveals simple but powerful techniques that will help you to transform the scenario. You'll discover how to communicate directly and honestly - without causing friction with those close to you. We love that this book offers 'real-life' examples and links to strategic and high impact negotiations. To get this book via Amazon please click here.

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone is the perfect book for anyone who wants to get better at making new friends, negotiation or just dealing with people. Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist, business consultant, and life coach, author Mark Goulston shares simple but powerful techniques readers can use to break through the tough exteriors of colleagues, friends, strangers, and even adversaries. Just Listen reveals how to make a memorable and positive first impression, listen effectively, calm an angry or aggressive person down and steer conversations toward a more rational mindset and much more. Get your copy of Just Listen via Amazon by clicking this link.

In Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact, best-selling author and multiple award-winner Phil M. Jones presents what he calls his “Magic Words” and provides precise examples of how to put them to work. Expect to read the book quickly and feel instantly motivated to create your own examples to help you win more business, have more influence in your workplace and grow your persuasiveness in social situations. This book took us approximately an hour to read and can be repeatedly referred back to with ease. We recommend this book to anyone who wants to build and integrate conducive habits into their communication skills. A thumbs up from us! To buy Exactly What to Say via Amazon, click here.

Based on 15 years of research at the Harvard Negotiation Project, Difficult Conversations is the definitive work on handling unpleasant exchanges. It teaches us to work through difficult conversations by understanding that we're engaging in three dialogues: the "what happened" conversation (what do we believe was said and done), the "feelings" conversation (the emotional impact on everyone involved), and the "identity" conversation (what does this mean for everyone's opinion of themselves). We recommend this business classic-in-the-making because of its direct practical advice that can be applied to various circumstances. You can get your copy of Difficult Conversations on Amazon by clicking here. 

Pin Never the Right Word on Pinterest!

Like Our Site? These Are the Resources We Recommend.

To build this site we used our highly recommended, tried-and-tested tools listed below.

We Trust Elegant Themes

The Elegant Themes membership gives you complete access to 87 amazing themes and 3 awesome plugins, including Divi, the ultimate WordPress Theme and Visual Page builder. Elegant Themes have been building the world's most popular WordPress themes for the past 10 years, and rest assured their products will always be improved and maintained. 

Divi WordPress Theme

We Build With Divi Theme

One of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. Building layouts is easy and fast, making it ideal to create mockups and wireframes, prototyping a design, and creating the website itself. Build from the frontend or backend. The builder is intuitive. It's easy to learn and can be used by non-developers to create amazing websites. Check out the official Divi Theme here.

Divi Cake is a community driven marketplace for Divi Child Themes, Builder Layouts, and Plugins - Shop Now!

Customize With Divi Cake Plugins

Divi Cake’s main goal is to help the members of the Divi community find the perfect premium Divi themes, layouts, and plugins created by leading Divi developers and designers. Shop hundreds of premium Divi products like Divi child themes, Divi layouts, and Divi plugins on Divi Cake, the community driven Divi Marketplace. Find out more about Divi Cake here.

Shutterstock Media

We get our images from the OG leader in stock assets. Boost your business with the right images. They're royalty-free and ready to use. Footage & Music Libraries. 4k Images Added per Hour. No Daily Download Limit. Speedy Search & Discovery. With flexible plans and countless amounts of premium content uploaded weekly, we couldn't leave Shutterstock off our list.

Skill-Up With LinkedIn Learning

When you want to enhance your professional skills with expert-led, online video tutorials, the only place to go is LinkedIn Learning (Lynda). With a subscription you get 24/7, unlimited access to over 13,000 business, design & tech online courses and with a free month. We like them because we get expert-led courses that we can access anytime, anywhere. What's not to love?

Web Hosting

We're Hosted With SiteGround

SiteGround boasts a whole list of fantastic features at amazingly affordable prices. Along with multiple growth options, free site transfers and domains, built in Content Delivery Network integrations, WordPress support AND human support we wouldn't go to anyone else. They're basically faster, safer and more supportive- you can check them out here.

WP Buffs

Support with WP Buffs

When it comes to WordPress Technical support, we go straight to WP Buffs. WP Buffs handles unlimited edits, performance enhancements, daily health maintenance and regular security troubleshooting so you don't have to. All this topped off with remote 24/7 365 days a year remote support.  Learn more about the life- saving WP Buffs here.

Graphics With Creative Market

Creative Market is the world’s marketplace for design. Bring your creative projects to life with ready-to-use design assets from independent creators around the world. We love the unique finds, social media templates, vectors you name it they have it. I also doesn't hurt that our founder has a little store on there...

Powered by Creative Market

Powered by Creative Market

Contact Us

Email Us

Never the Right Word
Building 19475
PO Box 6945
London
W1A 6US
United Kingdom

Follow NTRW

Support NTRW

Become a Patron!
Donate to Never the Right Word and keep us accessible to all. Thank you!

Stay in the Loop

Pin It on Pinterest