Lesson Transcript

Alisha: Hi, everybody. Welcome back to English Topics. My name is Alisha and I'm joined today byโ€ฆ
Davey: Hi, I'm Davey.
Alisha: Thanks for joining us again, Davey. So, today, our topic for discussion is going to be Things That You Should Not Say When Meeting Someone for The First Time. So, please be careful not to say these things or to ask these questions the first time you meet someone. This could be very important. It could influence your relationship with that person for a long time. So, let's begin. I'll start this one. Okay, here we go do.
Davey: What do you have?
Alisha: First one! I'm not going to start that one. I'm going to start with--yes, the classic. The classic question, "How old are you?"
Davey: Ooh.
Alisha: Yeah. Don't ask this question. It doesn't matter. Maybe I could see if you're like a college-age person and you're at a college-age people party and everybody is pretty much the same age and you just maybe want to confirm exactly how close an age you are, I could see that. But, in the adult world, "How old are you?" is like a classic question not to ask because some people might be very sensitive about their age whether they feel they're older or younger than the person they're speaking to. So, don't ask this question. It's a good idea--just a better idea not to ask this question even if you're curious. If you're curious about how old someone is, what do you do?
Davey: "Ah, Alisha, when did you graduate high school?"
Alisha: Ah.
Davey: That's one. See what I did there?
Alisha: I did see what you did there. So, you ask an indirect question about their age. So, that you can kind of guess, maybe, about this age. So, he doesn't ask me how old I am but he asks when I completed a specific point in my life that usually happens around age 18 or so. Very tricky. So, yeah, avoid this question but an indirect one like that could be good, could be useful. Okay, nice one.
Um, what's your first tip?
Davey: My first tip is similar. I feel like you might have the better tips this time because you're very specific today. My first tip is, avoid "overly personal questions," or comments as well. So, for example, asking about age would be an example of that. But, I think, there's lots of--there are very many different overly personal questions that you could ask. For example, asking someone if they have a boyfriend or girlfriend, the first time you meet them. That's not really appropriate. If you see someone who looks pregnant and you ask, "Oh, when are you due?" That's always dangerous, things like that. Soโ€”
Alisha: That was one of mine. "When is the baby due?"
Davey: So you can get to that. But, yeah, asking overly personal questions is something that you should not do when you're meeting someone for the first time. As you get to know someone, you get to know more about them and it becomes safer to ask more personal questions and also to share more personal information about yourself. So, you shouldn't, for example--in addition to asking such questions, you shouldn't be volunteering very personal information about yourself just after you've met someone.
Alisha: That's true, yeah. If you share too much personal information the first time you meet someone, that can also be a little bit sudden, a little bit surprising to the person listening. So, that's a really good point. Don't just share all this information about your life, it sounds way too familiar, way too fast.
Davey: Oversharing.
Alisha: Hmm. Oversharing. Definitely. So, don't do that the first time. But, yeah, "When is the baby due?" Boyfriend or girlfriend, "How old are you?" Depending on where you are too. Some people might be a little bit sensitive about like jobs, it kind of depends on the place. I've encountered that a couple times. People don't want to explicitly say--people don't want to clearly say what they do.
Davey: That's true.
Alisha: Going off of what you said, to add a couple more personal items, "don't ask about religion or sexuality" the first time you meet someone because these are two usually very sensitive topics for people. If you want to you know continue a relationship with someone and get to know them better, maybe you can ask this sort of thing in the future. But, in general, the first time you meet someone, it's not a good idea to say, "What religion are you?" or, "What is your sexual preference?" That kind of question is far too personal for the first time you meet anyone. So, that's pretty that's a good one not to ask anybody.
Davey: A similar topic, my next thing to avoid talking about with people that you've just met is money. And, this can differ culturally. That's one reason I wanted to include this is because in some cultures, in some parts of the world, it's very acceptable to ask and talk about money. Talk about your financial situation or how much money you have or how much money you make and ask people about that. But, generally, in the English-speaking world, that is considered a taboo. You shouldn't ask about money because it's rude, you shouldn't talk about how much money you have or you make because it sounds like you're bragging and it can sound very rude. I actually remember, I used to live in China and when I lived in China when I first moved there, people would ask--I would meet people and they would ask me, "Oh, how much money do you make?" And, this was the second or third questionโ€ฆ
Alisha: Really?
Davey: โ€ฆof meeting a new person. The first few times, it really shocks me, I thought it was very strange. But then I learned, that's a more typical question in this culture. But, I still was a bit uncomfortable answering it, so I wasn't very definite. I wouldn't say exactly how much money.
Alisha: But, on the other hand, with the people who were asking you that question, did they tell you how much money they made?
Davey: Not always, no. No.
Alisha: Mmm. I see. So, maybe it was a curiosity question?
Davey: I think it was a curiosity question.
Alisha: That's interesting. Huh. That's interesting. I think that's a really important point because, again, people are very sensitive about their incomes especially in relation to the other people you're speaking to. But, on the other hand too, if you want to talk generally about like money or prices of an item, like maybe the price of gasoline or housing prices have gone up recently in the country where you live in, that's fine. The general topic of the economy of money is fine to talk about but don't talk about people's salary, don't talk about your bonus or the great new house you've just bought. That kind of thing can be really, really sensitive for discussion.
Alright. I think you have one more tip, Davey. What's your last tip?
Davey: I do have. I have one last tip. Similar to one that you gave, you mentioned, not talking about religion or sexuality. I have "politics or religion" and I was actually thinking of a movie quote when I thought of this. I remembered a movie quote something along the lines of "Never talk about politics or religion because you don't know who you're going to offend." And now, I think that these are very worthwhile and important topics to discuss. We should be able to talk about politics and religion with each other with our friends our family and people that we know but it's not a good idea to bring up these topics the first time you meet someone because you don't want to form a judgment of someone else or have someone form a judgment of you based on what you think about politics or religion. And so, once you get to know someone, you want your relationship with someone to be based on an interpersonal connection. And, once you've made a good connection, you have a good relationship with someone, then, it's a safer time, a safer relationship to talk about things like politics, religion, sexuality and so on without worrying about someone changing their opinion of you or your opinion being changed of someone else.
Alisha: Right. Exactly, exactly. That can be a really quick way to maybe make someone feel defensive if you ask, for example, "Well, what do you think of this political situation?" It can be a little bit of a problem because, number one, that person might not be interested in politics so you might make them feel nervous. And, two, they might be concerned that they're going to offend you or you're not going to agree with them. In general, it just creates too much tension for a first conversation or maybe even a second conversation, I don't know. So, it's better to avoid. I completely agree, establish that connection first. It's much better.
Okay, I'm out of tips. I think are you out of tips too?
Davey: I'm out of tips.
Alisha: Okay, great. So, those are a few things that you should definitely, definitely avoid the first time that you're speaking with someone. If there's anything that you have tried to use in a conversation and maybe it didn't go well or if you have other tips for something that you feel, in your culture, would be inappropriate to ask, please leave a comment and let us know about it.
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Davey: See you.

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What do you usually avoid saying when meeting someone for the first time?