It’s not always easy to tell when you’re being rude. Some behaviors — like chewing with your mouth open, belching at the table, or texting endlessly while in the presence of other people — are obviously not OK.
But other behaviors, like putting your used napkin on the table in the middle of a meal, speaking out too loud or gossiping, are less overtly rude, as is asking certain questions.
You may think you’re just being friendly by asking questions, but some questions are better than others. And though your intentions may be good with these inquiries about others to break the ice, asking certain things is actually asking for a little too much information.
Asking about money, or their choice on a recent political vote is known to be rude, but it’s also rude to ask about relationship status, weight, and income. And once you know what questions are rude, you may know how to conduct a friendly, polite conversation. Therefore, before you can become a great conversationalist, you need to know the basics 8 questions that could ruin your relationship and their possible trust in you.
1. “Wow…How Awesomeeeeee.” or “Did you go there for fun?”
This was the question we like to ask to appear as a nice and chilled person. For example, A person will say he had been gone last week for a trip to the state of Utah. To which you might quickly and superficially reply: “Oh cool! Did you go there just for fun?” His answer: “Actually it was for my grandfather’s burial.” Me: “Oh. I’m sorry.” Stares at your feet.
A variation of this is when someone says they took a trip to such and such place, and you say, “Oh, that must have been awesome! I love it so much!” To which they reply, “Well, I went there with my wife to get a second opinion on her cancer.”
A better question: “Oh..what brings you there?” or “What was the occasion for your trip?”
2. “Is this your mother/sister/daughter?”
You may feel like you know the relationship between two people, but you could be wrong. You ask if so-and-so is some guy’s daughter, and he replies, “She’s my girlfriend, actually.” Or you ask a lady if the woman standing next to her is her daughter, and — doh! — it turns out to be her sister.
A better question: “And who is this lovely lady I have just meet?”
3. “When are you guys going to have kids?”
This seems like a common, fairly offensive question. Except when the couple you level your query at has been trying to have kids without any success so far. Then your friendly question just becomes another shake of salt on the wound. And there’s no good response for the couple to give in this situation, as they probably don’t want to share details of their fertility problems with you. Or perhaps they haven’t decided if they want kids at all, or one partner does and one doesn’t, in which case you become a reason for them to have further tension, and they probably don’t wanna talk to you again.
A better question: None — don’t ask. If they want to tell you about their plan for producing progeny, they will.
4. “How long have you two been dating?”
This can be a question that automatically comes out of your mouth when a person you know brings a lady guest to an event or vice versa. But oops, they’ve never talked about whether they’re officially dating or not. Now they just look at each other, and the floor, awkwardly, and stumble out some vague reply, and walk away by leaving you alone at the corner.
5. “Are you pregnant?”
Finally, the classic don’t–touch-that-with-a-ten-foot-pole question! A common but equally risky variation is, “When are you due?” (before you’re actually sure she’s pregnant). The potential for awkwardness is way above the sky when you venture into this serious personal affair question. Stay away.
A better question: There isn’t one. I don’t ask even when their belly could knock a man over at 10 yards. Let them voluntarily announce it by themselves — it’s bound to come up in a conversation.
6. “Why do you look so tired?”
You may think you’re expressing concern for their health and wellbeing but what the listener likely hears is “you look bad,” says Bonnie Tsai, etiquette expert and founder and director of Beyond Etiquette. “They may be experiencing some health issues that are causing them to feel more fatigued than usual or they may just appear that way all the time,” she says. “There’s no need for you to make them feel like they need to appear a certain way that seems friendly and chilled at all the time.
A better question: “How are you doing?” or “Please let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you?” If they don’t say anything, just move on and stop thirsting yourself to know his/her personal affairs (unless the person is in a possible dangerous situation that could harm others around him/her).
7. “How much money do they give you?” Or “How much money do you make?”
The only people allowed to ask this question are professional headhunters doing a confidential salary survey or your prospective employer at your interview. “If you are just curious how much your friend, cousin, or neighbor makes at their job, you can quell that curiosity by looking it up on a salary website like glassdoor, pay scale, or the official Bureau of Labor Statistics posted by the respective regional government. Many etiquette and rules have seemed to be relaxed in this modern century but asking about money is still not a good sign to show respect.
A better question: “You seem to make a lot of money?” If they do not volunteer themselves to come up with a follow-up statement about his situation just shut up and move on to other topics.
8. “Why don’t you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?” Or “Come on, I’ll find you get one.”
Generally, asking someone about the reason why they are still single and not seeking a relationship status is pretty rude. You may have the best intentions of asking about that ex or inquiring about whether or not someone has tried to meet someone new, but it will only going to make that single person feel uncomfortable. If there’s someone new and exciting in a person’s life, chances are they’re going to share that information willingly by themselves as you know them better and deeper.
A better question: “You are a wonderful young man/woman! I imagine all the gentleman/ladies would be around you.” Again, If that person just smiles but does not volunteer to come up with a follow-up statement about his/her situation just shut up and move on to other topics.
The main principle in asking polite small talk questions is to not make the questions leading to uncomfortable and awkward situations that could ruin your possible next step of the relationship. The end goal of the small talk is to do a little ice break slowly bit by bit and get to know a little bit about the person without intruding into their personal life.