First impressions are extremely important. Whether you’re introducing yourself to someone at work or meeting a possible client over coffee, you should mind what you say when you first meet that person because those words will have a lasting impression.
Mishaps, usually due to anxiety, are bound to happen. If you’re nervous, you may speak without thinking enough about what you’re trying to communicate, much faster than usual, and say more than is necessary. That being said, here are some topics you should consider avoiding in a conversation with someone new:
- “I’m sorry to be a bother” – Excusing yourself for something you haven’t done yet is something you should really avoid in your first conversation with someone. It suggests that you’re not confident enough. Instead, try saying “Excuse me. Do you have a moment?”.
- “Did you hear … ?” – The vast majority of sentences that start like that sound like gossip, and I assume you don’t want to be seen like that. Spreading gossip will only give you a bad reputation.
- “That’s impossible” – Actually, avoid making any absolute statements. It will make you look narrow-minded and a difficult conversation partner. Also, mind how negative your statements are in general, because if they don’t reflect a positive, can-do, and confident demeanor, they should probably be avoided.
- “Do you believe in God?” – Regardless of whether you’re a person of faith or not, the first time you meet someone professionally is not the time to ask about their religious affiliation. It can lead to extremely awkward moments, which are difficult to overcome.
- “Who are you voting for?” – Finally, keep in mind not to bring up politics into your first conversation with someone. Just as with the inquiry about religion, discussing politics can cause unnecessary awkwardness and even heated arguments. If, however, the person you’re talking to decides to launch into the topic, remain objective and keep away from anything too emotionally charged, controversial, personal, opinionated, or judgmental.