Have you heard of This American Life? It’s an NPR radio program that is probably the most life-changing discovery I have ever made. They cover the widest range of topics about American life – sometimes it’s tough subjects like doing a 4-month in-depth story where they sent multiple reporters into one of the toughest neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago to cover the goings on at a high school, and sometimes it’s lighthearted with subjects like children at camp…and everything in between. I highly recommend it – you can download one podcast a week. Try it out, or listen to the archives streaming here.
A few weeks (months?) ago they played a great podcast called “The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed To Talk About.” The premise is simple: one of the reporter’s mothers has had a list of seven topics you are never supposed to talk about in general, everyday conversation. This is conversation with friends, at a dinner party, anywhere, really. The reporters go about trying to disprove her and try to give her stories that are, in fact, interesting. Generally, they do a good job and go to extreme lengths to prove her wrong, but overall she is spot on.
Let me say this: it has changed the way I look at conversation. Now, clearly, on this blog and/or my tumblr I discuss diet and aches and pains…but in day-to-day conversation? This list is almost perfect.
Here is the list of what NEVER to talk about:
- How you slept. Nobody cares.
- Menstruation. Nobody cares. (And nobody WANTS to care! Ew!)
- General aches and pains. Nobody cares. There can be of course be exceptions for very close friends and family, especially if there is a chronic condition…but otherwise the general colds, aches, pains of everyday life…truly, nobody cares.
- Diet. Nobody cares. Your vegetarianism, your paleo routine, your clean eating, your new diet…nobody cares. (Personally, I include exercise regime in this. Your yoga classes, Crossfit lift records, running schedule…nobody. cares.)
- Route talk. How you get somewhere, where you go, what exits you took, the traffic you hit…it’s the number one conversation killer, according to the reporter’s mother.
I think the most pervasive in conversation in my life and in other people’s conversations to me is the diet (into which I include exercise regimes). I allowed myself to fall into this pit after I was diagnosed with adult-onset allergies and my entire food life changed. I told EVERYONE about what I was allergic to. I could feel people’s minds turning off. This podcast was a wakeup call. Now if people ask, I quickly respond, and then will not dive deeper into the conversation. It’s really helped change my outlook on the situation, as well. Amazing how that happens!
Do you think this list is too restrictive? Think about it and I challenge you – try to have 3 days of conversations without mentioning ANY of these items and try to figure out how many times people mention them to you. You’ll be shocked. And you might just have a new outlook on something, too!