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10 things NOT to talk about at a cocktail party

Summer is just around the corner and you know what that means…it’s time to party! And when you’re kickin’ up your heels at all of the warm weather cocktail parties you’ll attend this season, remember…Cool Broads know how to work it.

If you haven’t already, check out my post on flirting for a quick refresher course on the age-old skill, buy a cute, summery “going out” outfit, get your poor, neglected winter feet buffed and polished, and try out that new bright lipstick.

But whatever you do, don’t forget to dust off your cocktail party etiquette. A party is where people go to have fun and enjoy themselves, and there are some topics of conversation that’ll just never accomplish that goal. And though Cool Broads know how to keep the conversation interesting and fun, she also knows what topics to avoid.

These include:

  1. Politics; this is a tricky subject and I know lots of people out there love to debate political issues, but it’s been my experience that those types of conversations are best left for small groups and one-on-ones with a friend whose opinion you respect. People aren’t likely to be swayed by your boozy arguments about why they should support the Democratic party when they’re Republican (or vice versa) and if you get on your soapbox you’ll probably just end up ticking someone off. The only exception I can think of is when someone specifically asks your opinion on a particular issue because they’re still trying to form theirs. If that’s the case, discuss the subject quietly and then gracefully end the conversation when someone else joins the group.
  2. Religion; this topic is similar to politics…a deeply held set of beliefs that isn’t likely to change over a margarita. An exception here might be where you go to church and if you’re happy there, especially if someone has asked for this information because they’re thinking of joining.
  3. How gifted and talented your kid is; Cool Broads don’t boast. Besides, this topic is potentially awkward if you are talking to someone whose child’s test scores didn’t land him in the “brilliant” category like yours did.
  4. How much you just paid for something; in general, it’s bad form to discuss money. This includes how much you just paid for your highly-coveted Louis Vuitton, your shiny new Lexus, or your McMansion. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but it’s usually with small ticket items, such as how much your pay your babysitter or the yard guy (and only discuss what you pay your yard guy if you pay him in currency…wink wink).
  5. Someone else (especially if they’re at the party, or God forbid, they’re hosting the party); this should go without saying but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found myself talking with someone at a party and they’ve gotten the impression that they’re at a gossipfest. If someone begins to gossip, try to change the subject. If that doesn’t work, end the conversation by excusing yourself.
  6. Taxes and Death; boring and sad. Don’t rain on everyone’s parade!
  7. Your kids (excessively); especially if people in the conversation don’t have kids. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to talk about your kids, just don’t try to convince people that your son will launch the next Google soon after his 6th birthday and don’t talk about them…excessively.
  8. Your pets (excessively); especially if people in the conversation don’t have pets. Again, you can tell a funny story about your pet, just don’t talk about how much you love them more than your human children…excessively.
  9. Your uber-cool job (excessively); you can tell a funny story about work if it’s relevant to the conversation. Just don’t talk about yourself…that’s right, excessively.
  10. How much you dislike something; negativity should be avoided at all costs (we all just want to have a little fun!). If you’re in a bad mood or have had a bad day…leave it at home. Debbie Downer never gets invited back!

To be fair, all of these rules have exceptions and in some instances it’s more about HOW you handle the conversation rather than what the conversation is really about.

In reality, the most important rule is probably to be perceptive and take cues from those around you. If you find that you’ve crossed the line or offended someone, just apologize. Nobody’s perfect. That’s right…not even Cool Broads (heard me say this before, have you?)

Huh, I think I just channeled Yoda.

(Click here for, “Get your schmooze on: 10 ways make dazzling party conversation”)


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Tags: attitude · the rules

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14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Stacey Derbinshire // Apr 22, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Stacey Derbinshire

  • 2 Joyce Jarrard // Apr 23, 2008 at 6:22 am

    I agree with your main points, but I did find your post amusing. The verboten topics you listed probably make up 98% of the average American’s daily conversation! What is left?

    1. The Weather
    2. Movies & Television
    3. Books you have read (not religious or political.)
    4. The rare personal anecdote that excludes the topics to avoid.
    5. The hot new restaurant in town.
    6. How to kill one’s crabgrass.
    7. Quirky news you read on the Internet — such as today’s news that a mail carrier saved a baby from falling.

    However, even the above suggestions are not all “safe” subjects. I have noticed that what my co-workers watch on television does not interest me in the least. I am not a NASCAR fan. I’m not addicted to reality TV, either. I have actually stopped eating with some of my co-workers because I don’t want to hear about NASCAR daily. If I try to steer the conversation to other topics, I end up talking too much!

  • 3 socalgirl // Apr 23, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    good post. so what ARE we allowed to talk about. I tend to be a bit introverted. Do you have any suggestions?

  • 4 Jennifer // Apr 23, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Great post. I wish that more people would remember this list.

  • 5 How to make dazzling party conversation // Apr 23, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    […] 10 things NOT to talk about at a cocktail party […]

  • 6 Frankie // Apr 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    At a party tonight.. talking to a lady who is dating a friend of ours. I knew she had been married before and has 2 kids. My husband told me her husband died.. tonight in conversation we were talking about a couple who are getting a divorce, and she mentioned her divorce. I opened my big mouth and said I thought her husband had died, she said he did, a month after their divorce. I just said, oh that’s terrible.. but really wish I had listened to your advice about small talk.

  • 7 thatcoolbroad // Apr 27, 2008 at 8:16 am


    That’s not really a serious infraction…and it seems like you handled it well. True, death was on the list of topics to avoid, but as long as you don’t hover on the topic too long (i.e. asking lots of questions about how he died, how his children handled his death, how she felt about him passing away a month after they divorced, etc.), you’re ok. That kind of conversation would be fine to have with her over a cup of coffee…just not at a party!


  • 8 Cool Broads know when to shut their pie-hole // May 4, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    […] Rantings Diarrhea of the mouth can also be about not knowing when to end a rant. Cool Broads avoid being negative…it’s unattractive…and negative things are on the list of things NOT to talk about at a cocktail party. […]

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  • 11 Gary (aka Old Dude) // Jul 20, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    just returned froma social soiree, and can attest to the fact that your list of 10 is quite good. I being a senior, am allowed a modicum of leeway in the manner of topics, but again being a senior, I have learned by mahy trial and error attempts which work and which do not—-we didn’t have google when I was a young blade, but a good stinging slap across the face does wonders for teaching lessons—-if I had had your list then—–well no point wishing what wasn’t available—-nice post.

    Gary,(aka Old dude)

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