Icebreaker or Conversation Killer

Insert your convesation herePicture this image, you meet a stranger and start a discussion – in fact it becomes a long one. What do you discuss?

Yesterday I met a tourist promoting a charity, hoping to sign me up as a sponsor. We struck up a conversation. I saw an opportunity to recruit a part time copywriter and chatted about dLook.

At no point did I feel I was confronting, nor did I feel I was out of line. In fact I had a great opportunity to help her earn a few extra dollars.

Similarly, if I meet the owner of a business, I’m quick to launch into promoting online advertising, again I believe in the product, I know that for most businesses dLook offers a great product and it’s a great offer.

When I’m chatting with friends I feel no issue talking about a recent movie or expressing an opinion even if different to their own. If I’ve come across a good restaurant, a cool YouTube video or website I’ve stumbled upon – sure, I’ll chat about it.

Even people I don’t know well, casual acquaintances, I can be embroiled in debate over carbon tax, welfare, the environment.

At no time during these conversations do I feel I’ve stepped on someone’s toes, or been too polarizing in my views.

But if I talk about my faith, my Christian beliefs, mention the word Jesus or the bible, then I may see a different reaction. Why?

I believe in my faith, I feel I can share a great opportunity (like dLook there is a need to recruit people), I absolutely believe in the “product” or message. In terms of promoting a great story or life changing “carpe diem” moment what’s more important than eternal life? Yet, this subject is off limits, it’s taboo! For many, even the inclusion in this blog post is confronting, or maybe I’m tagged a bible basher. But why?

I can ask you to like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, I can promote my blog, though if I promote my Christian beliefs then I’m stepping on toes. I’d really like to understand why we can try to help someone improve their career, we can even help with “life coaching” but death coaching … different story.

How about you? What do you discuss? Fill in the conversation bubble – are you an ice breaker or a conversation killer? And if I were to approach you about my faith what’s the right way? How would you like me to broach the subject?

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10 responses to “Icebreaker or Conversation Killer

  1. Interesting musings, Corri. And I have to say, I love the bit about “death coaching.”

    My thought is that spirituality is very personal. My faith may not be the same as your faith, just as my politics and views on certain polemic topics may differ widely from yours. The challenge with bringing up your faith, I’m afraid, is that it’s very difficult to do so without insinuating that the person you are speaking with could or should agree with and buy into your brand of spirituality. People rarely bring up their religion in conversation with strangers unless they have some kind of goal in mind – persuasion, recruiting, etc. Most people bristle at being evangelized. You ask “How would you like me to broach the subject?” My question is, “Why would I want you to?”

    I think it’s great that you brought this topic up for discussion. I will be interested to see how others respond.

    Jayna

    • Hi Jayna, thank you for your comments.
      Pick up on your statement “why would you want to”. I share everything else (positive and negative in life) – I’ll promote something I like, so why not my beliefs? Sure there’s a fine line between promotion or discussion and overwhelming preaching, yet there’s also a case for sharing something that you’ve found so powerful and positive.

  2. Ah Corri,

    You have found a cultural taboo. The horrible “religious” conversation. As a seminar student who spends a lot of my time and my energy engaging my faith it is a hard topic to avoid. It is such a big part of my life that I often have to talk about it to explain how I even ended up where I am today doing what I do. Yet, it still has a way of making some people view me differently. I just had a corporate meeting yesterday where someone asked me how I ended up in Indiana. I was forced to explain that I can her to go to seminary. They leaned back from the table with a smirk. I thought, “oh, wow, here we go again.”

    The conversation went on for nearly another hour. Right before I got up to leave the person decided to tell me about their place of worship in the city and the passion that they had for their current church. They went on to tell me how it had impacted their two children and ultimately changed their level of faith. My point: we never know how our stories and faith will change our business or social interaction. Don’t assume… just be YOU! That will forever be enough.

    • Hey Jermaine, appreciate the advice. Especially in the corporate “theatre”.
      Agree that it can alter someone’s views of you if you are vocal about your faith – though you’ve proved that reaction swings both ways.

  3. Some say you should avoid discussing politics and religion. Yet, if we are spiritual and have a guiding set of principles, then why the avoidance? Possibly the issue is wanting the “business” and the willingness to sacrifice core beliefs? Margaret Thatcher said “Consensus is the absence of leadership.” Many embrace consensus type behavior and possibly this is why we have the problems we currently have in the US. As a side note one of the psychographics for my clients is they are conservative. By knowing this has further helped me to work with ideal potential customers (prospects) and has also increase sales for my business.

    • Hey Lee, “Possibly the issue is wanting the “business” and the willingness to sacrifice core beliefs?” is very confronting! In my business I’ve had to grapple with this very closely and each day. Great points … sounds like it’s time to get off the fence!

  4. You pose a good question there Corri. I see this every now and then where I will be at lunch with a few people and we can talk about relationships and politics but if religion is brought up the table gets a little tense and aggravated. I learned after gauging facial expressions to let others raise that topic unfortunately. I see myself as someone who is a strong Christian and I love my religion, but not everyone else agrees. Why we can talk about right and left wings but not the right or left had of the Father is beyond me, but I no longer worry if I’m stepping on anyone’s toes, especially if I know that person. I simply feel out the situation and if it seems like I will make someone uncomfortable by bringing it up, I don’t. Sad but I guess that’s the way that it has to be (for now at least).

  5. Hi Danielle, thanks for your honesty. It’s been great to get the topic out there, even if it’s just to allow it a little peek into the general conversation space like so many other themes share! Cheers,

  6. Just my humble opinion, hope I don’t step on anybody’s toes…

    Wonder what would happen if you went to talk with a stranger and breached the subject of their family planning. Even worse, yours! Mmmm right, they probably wouldn’t like it. Probably would think you have some sort of hidden agenda, or are a bit funny.

    Religion is quite a private thing as well, very personal. Mostly everything has a reasoning behind it. Religion is a matter of accepting or negating a belief and it’s a very private thing, and religions have a way of offending those who disagree so I guess culturally we adapted to avoid talking about it with strangers.

    Look at humour. You can make jokes about _anything_ but if you touch religion there’s some people who will get extremely offended. And if you do it on a newspaper, even worse. Not a subject for a casual conversation, no.

    • Hey Zoodouk 🙂 great to hear your humble opinion!

      I’m not known for tact, in fact sledgehammer is often the more apt description … and I’ve broached the family planning subject a number of times – sure it’s got me in hot water, but questions like do you want kids? more kids? enter conversations regularly. No, I’ve never said to a woman do you use birth control – or what form of contraception suits you guys 🙂 So you’re right there are limits.

      I agree too about humour, many are offended if you breach religion – and I must admit on that front, if religion was more open to discussion it is also more open to parody.

      Great points … left me with plenty to ponder!

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