How to save your­self from a con­ver­sa­tion bomb go­ing off

Cosmopolitan (India) - - YOU, YOU, YOU -

You’re at a party, a wed­ding, or meet­ing your boyfriend’s par­ents. Ev­ery­thing’s go­ing well. You’re witty, calm, own­ing it. Then some­one drops a con­ver­sa­tion bomb that’s racist, ho­mo­pho­bic or just ir­ri­tat­ing, and you don’t know what to say. Anna Mus­son, an eti­quette ex­pert, and Bar­bara War­ren, a me­dia and pre­sen­ta­tion skills con­sul­tant, re­veal how to re­spond:


Some­one is in­flam­ma­tory about pol­i­tics or re­li­gion.

EX­AM­PLE: “All I’m say­ing is, you only ever hear about Mus­lim sui­cide bombers. So...”

War­ren Says: “If you don’t agree, stay true to that. You don’t need to in­flame the dis­cus­sion, though. Say, ‘You and I prob­a­bly won’t reach a con­sen­sus, so let’s talk about some­thing else.’ Don’t get drawn in to a dis­cus­sion that makes you un­com­fort­able.”

Mus­son Says: “Re­move your­self from this con­ver­sa­tion ASAP—it’s easy to of­fend peo­ple and they’ll re­mem­ber you and your views.”


When you re­ally put your foot in it... Ex­am­ple: For­get­ting your guy friend’s new girl­friend’s name and call­ing her by his ex’s name.

War­ren Says: “Own up, ex­plain the mis­take and, if you feel you need to, apol­o­gise.”

Mus­son Says: “Dam­age con­trol could in­clude state­ments like, ‘I was think­ing about Ka­t­rina Kaif (or some other stun­ning woman’s name) and got mud­dled.’ That way, they’re com­pared with some­one beau­ti­ful, rather than the ex. It’s not about ly­ing—it’s about pre­serv­ing her dig­nity.”


When some­one gives you waaay too much in­for­ma­tion.

Ex­am­ple: “What’s up with fart­ing when­ever you cough? Oh re­ally, is that just me?”

War­ren Says: “If you don’t want to dis­cuss things like this, stay silent. It makes peo­ple un­com­fort­able, and puts the onus on them to continue the con­ver­sa­tion—hope­fully in a dif­fer­ent way!”

Mus­son Says: “A lady doesn’t dis­cuss such is­sues. It’s not that we pre­tend we don’t break wind, but we’re mys­te­ri­ous crea­tures. Good re­sponse is ‘What a funny topic’. It’ll leave them won­der­ing.”


Some­one is be­ing so self-dep­re­cat­ing that you’re wor­ried about their men­tal well-be­ing. Ex­am­ple: “Ev­ery­one’s get­ting mar­ried and I’m all alone.”

War­ren Says: “If you know the per­son, re­as­sure them by say­ing, ‘I’m here for you’. Talk a lit­tle, and then steer the con­ver­sa­tion to some­thing more pos­i­tive. If you don’t know them, feel free to ex­cuse your­self.”

Mus­son Says: “If they’re a friend, be open, and ask, ‘Why do you feel that way?’ En­cour­age them in their sit­u­a­tion and don’t agree with neg­a­tive self-talk.”

‘Look, for the last time, this is not pest


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