Don’t Go There: Taboo Topics in Business

I just attended a small business roundtable group which serves as a forum for entrepreneurs seeking business advice and mentoring. The facilitator couldn’t be there so we were on our own to lead the discussion with a couple of suggested topics. Unfortunately that led to trouble.

We started out talking about economic projections but a couple of people moved the discussion to politics. Only a few people participated in the political conversation and they all seemed to agree with each other. There seemed to be an assumption that we all felt the same way. I was very uncomfortable and I suspect I wasn’t the only one.

I found myself questioning if I wanted to associate or do business with these people, who at best were simply clueless at worst downright rude. Let me say this loud and clear, NEVER, I REPEAT, NEVER TALK POLITICS IN BUSINESS. You just don’t know what someone’s political views are and you run the very real risk of losing a client or potential client if you bring up a controversial topic.   

The other thing that happened was I mentioned that I heard a statistic that there are now more female business owners then male business owners. Somebody in the group said they were probably all home-based businesses and weren’t doing anything to stimulate the economy. Are you kidding me? Did I just hear you correctly? You actually said that in a room full of small business owners and said it directly to a female small business owner? Again, I was insulted and said to myself this is not someone I want to do business with, ever! 

Remember what mom taught us? If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. That guideline has not changed. I would add, if you want to succeed in business be respectful, be professional and avoid heated topics. Enough said.

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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. Small Business Blog on April 23, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for your advice. Yeah, talking politics inside a business conversation is not nice. Politics is out of the topic.

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