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BigKeith

Rules for conversation in the dining room!

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I understand that and can see the subjects aren't for everyone and if that was your choice I'd respect that.

 

But let's say, one night after a few meals we were talking about our countries and I said "I've always thought it strange but, how come it takes so long to elect a President". Would you feel uncomfortable answering that?

I wouldn't feel uncomfortable at all. I wish our presidential "season" was much shorter.

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I think it would be great to have Keith and ToxicFairy at our table. It got me to thinking - I wonder if you could request to be seated in MDR with people from other countries? I love talking with people from all over. Very few subjects would be off limits to me, unless the other person was overly judgmental or self righteous

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To listen to crap that I get exposed to everyday on the television or in the newspaper is not my idea of a relaxing vacation. Perhaps the concierge can arrange for a table for those who care to go in this direction. I'll take the quiet table please!

Don may I sit with you. Great thread Keith, on my last cruise I was on the Anytime dinning plan and shared everynight met a lot of great people of all kinds Brits, U.S. and Canada .So the next to the last night a single older man sits down and he don't like Cathloics and Mormons and all Republicans are idiots, I kind of thought it was funny at first and I did not know how to react in this kind of situation I would normally try humor but I dont think this jerk would get it . It made the whole table quiet and un comfortable. So it is easy to say I like to talk about Relgion , poltics, guns whatever but one jerk like this will change your mind. I think we should leave debates to talk radio not the dinner table.

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Hot Topics like Sex/Politics/Religion are usually subjects we all have strong feelings about and it's very difficult to remain objective when someone's personal feelings begin to intrude, and they always do. We once spent a very uncomfortable evening as the only nonAmericans on a table of vocal Reps and Dems who just couldn't resist taking cheap shots at each other. Our evening with an evangelical Christian didn't end well either when he started the convo with "have you accepted Our Lord Jesus Christ into your life as your Saviour?". Hmmmmmm.

 

And speaking as a Brit/Aussie any discussion about income, cost of cruise, money in general is strictly out of bounds although Americans seem much less "uptight" about that sort of thing.

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I think the rules are to err on the side of caution when talking with those you don't know. Most of these topics are hote buttons and people have passionate opinions one way or the other. I enjoy intelligent conversations with open minded people - open minded as in willing to talk and discuss diffences of opinion, not open minded as in I can change their mind). Talking to people who think anyone who disagrees with thier opinion is an idiot, not so much fun.

 

So I would take a day or two and get to know your tablemates before delving into a deep hot topic. Or play it safe and talk about the wonderful places you have seen or will see. No need to offend or ruin your vacation or thiers.

 

I can't understand why anyone would bring up most of these topics; religion, politics, weight issues, etc.

 

What is wrong with; where are you from, are you enjoying your cruise so far, is this your first cruise, what are your favorite ports of call for this itinerary, etc.?

 

I so agree that there are certain subjects that are okay such as your cruising history. But I would be hesitant to bring up religion and politics -- and this is a good policy in any setting (unless of course you are at an occasion such as a political fund raiser, etc. in which you know most of the people there share your views).

 

One thing I like about traditional dining is that once you get to know your tablemates better you can start touching on general subjects such as your hometown or occupation but be aware that some people don't like to discuss even those subjects (maybe they have an unusual job that they don't like to talk about). Once someone says they prefer to talk about something else, that should be your cue to switch to another topic. Don't use this as a chance to psychoanalyze strangers.

 

I remember once the subject of cruise specials came up. Not necessarily about how much one paid for the cruise, but where one can find specials. That certainly would be okay for many people.

 

On another cruise, we were seated with a British couple and an Australian one. After one meal, hubby said we should try to avoid politics as he was guessing the Brits were probably 180 degrees from us. But further in the week, somehow politics did came up and as it turned out, the British man felt the same as us about the then current president.

 

As for subjects such as religion, if someone is wearing a cross or star of David on a chain, you may have an idea of their religion. But the topic can still be a minefield. If someone was insisting on talking about their religion to me, I might start thinking the next thing would be for them to proselytize, which is something I'm strongly against when unsolicited.

 

If it's something that could make someone uncomfortable, don't bring it up. If you had incorrectly felt a topic wouldn't make someone uncomfortable, drop it.

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This is why I insist on getting a table by myself.

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I agree with some other posters, those who bring up religion in a conversation, are normally... well not someone I want to talk to!

 

I will put it this way, one day years ago, my husband was just having a bad day at work. It happens to everyone. His work environment was one where he DID NOT have to interact with other people. Well, one lady he worked with saw he was in a bad mood. She followed him for 4 HOURS telling him to turn to God to solve all his problems. He asked her to leave him be many times w/o out success. In the end he ended up yelling at her, resulting in him loosing his job. All because someone decided THEIR God was the answer.

 

I cruise with my kids, if we had table mates who wanted to talk about sex during dinner, yeah that wouldn't work well either IMO! My kids are only 10 and 14, but they are well informed 10 and 14 year olds! We have no problems discussing powder keg topics with our kids, others have no business doing it! Sex topics go along with the Abortion topic in my mind. No offense, I want to talk about a medical procedure at all during dinner! Would you want someone telling you all about their surgery while you are eating with all the details?

 

My thoughts are there is nothing wrong with being civil. While there are some who loves their tablemates and keep in touch with them for years, most you will never see again after the week. To be honest, I just don't care what religion someone is, what they think about politics, or what they think on ANY topic!

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... Our evening with an evangelical Christian didn't end well either when he started the convo with "have you accepted Our Lord Jesus Christ into your life as your Saviour?". Hmmmmmm.

 

Made me lol. What a way to clear your table for the rest of the cruise.

Now about that weather....

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Normally, it is suggested that you not discuss religion or politics because they are topics that can set off arguments. I agree that asking about someone's religion in order to learn about it is one thing. To start to proselytize is totally another thing, and totally inappropriate with strangers (or new friends). Sadly, many cannot discuss politics civilly either. We travel with one couple who has to be kept away from politics and the economy -- he cannot discuss it calmly. On the other hand, I frequently get in very civil discussions with people on the topic, keeping it a discussion rather than a rant.

 

In many ways, it is unfortunate that we can no longer discuss politics or economics in a civil way and have a full national discussion to arrive at some real, necessary national answers. It just seems that so many of us are so polarized and don't want to discuss any other alternatives. They are, sadly, topics that need careful handling.

 

Of course another problem would be if the new friend does not have the ability to keep the discussion within calm bounds, you have a problem on your hands.

Bingo. Talk radio and tabloid journalism are the worst offenders, and unfortunately many of their adherents have accepted their model of "shout it louder" and "reduce the most complex issue to a ten word mantra" and mistake this for discourse. It is neither educated nor educational, which ought to be the point of conversation, to learn something!

 

I guess I'm a bit of a trouble maker; when confronted with a blowhard who insists on shoving his/her views down my throat (regardless of topic) I'll bait them and argue the opposite point, regardless of what I actually think or feel.

 

Among calm folks (not like those I mentioned above) if wonder why, if you are only willing to discuss the most innocuous of topics (and even those at only the most superficial level) one would choose to sit with strangers? Why not just stay among yourselves where you can discuss what you want?

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Hot button issues can be the basis for lively interesting conversation but ONLY if everyone involved in the discussion wants to be there & the tone remains civilized. Many people do not enjoy discussing these subjects & don't want to debate during vacation so it's safer to avoid them.

The key to any dinner conversation is being polite. Stay away from subjects that make people uncomfortable.

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Hot button issues can be the basis for lively interesting conversation but ONLY if everyone involved in the discussion wants to be there & the tone remains civilized. Many people do not enjoy discussing these subjects & don't want to debate during vacation so it's safer to avoid them.

 

The key to any dinner conversation is being polite. Stay away from subjects that make people uncomfortable.

Yes, but some people seem to have an extremely narrow set of comfortable topics. Must everyone at the table accept the constraints of the least flexible among them?

 

In another thread on this topic someone posted that they refuse to discuss where they live, what they do for a living, etc. He/she didn't leave much room at all, which again leads me to wonder why they would want to sit with strangers at all.

Edited by euro cruiser

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First, we would love to sit with eurocruiser! Just want to thank you again for helping us with great port information on our Med cruise! Hope to meet you on one of our cruises...:)

On one cruise, we shared a table in the MDR with a wonderful mother/daughter who loved politics. The mother spoke for several nights about how she adored (really) Pres. Bill Clinton. One night, I said: "All Bill Clinton will be remembered for is Monica Lewinsky". The next evening, we asked the daughter where her mother was. She said her mother was not feeling well. We never saw the mother again for dinner. :D

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Almost any topic is worthy of "talking about". Almost any topic is NOT worthy of "arguing about". There's a difference!

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In all of my cruises, none of these subjects have ever come up at dinner. It's mostly vacation conversation. I would think that most people having fun on vacation are not interested in bringing up all the mess and stresses going on in the world.......Heck, you go on vacation to get away from all of that.

 

Just relax, smile, and say, "How are you enjoying your cruise?".......I bet none of that other foolishness is mentioned.

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Abortion......what ninkumpoop would consider that an appropriate dinner topic. Lets just throw in venereal diseases as well as prostate issues.......sheesh!:eek:

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I can't understand why anyone would bring up most of these topics; religion, politics, weight issues, etc.

 

What is wrong with; where are you from, are you enjoying your cruise so far, is this your first cruise, what are your favorite ports of call for this itinerary, etc.?

 

 

Why would?

How Would?

Someone casually happen to ask what religion you are after just meeting you at a cruise ship dining table? :confused:

 

I can think of no graceful way someone would introduce that question or why they would.

 

 

Edited by sail7seas

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I was on a cruise once where we were seated at a table for 8. There were 7 at the table: DH and I, 2 other couples, and a single middle aged guy. The single guy had just broken up with his girlfriend a week before the cruise, but went solo anyway. He had very strong opinions about politics and was not shy about expressing them. He was oblivious to the one couple at our table who took offense. I tended to agree with him, so it did not bother me or DH. However, one of the couples did not come to dinner after the second night. I tried to steer the conversation away from the topic after that. He still tried to talk about it and it got old after a while. He finally stopped after the fifth night when he showed up with TWO women! I think he was dating both of them. Now THAT was awkward! My husband admired him though. LOL.

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But let's say, one night after a few meals we were talking about our countries and I said "I've always thought it strange but, how come it takes so long to elect a President". Would you feel uncomfortable answering that?

 

That is much different... that is a question about a political system. It is not a discussion about politics and opinions. The question you have presented is far more educational and factual than a discussion about actual political activities.

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I would be uncomfortable or disinterested to talk about most of these subjects. But I don't have to worry about this because I always choose anytime dining.

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OP's list

Religion

Politics

Abortion

Economy

What you paid for the cruise

Weight

Opinions on what other people like to eat

Religion, politics, abortion- I will not discuss any of these subjects with strangers, period.

 

Economy- I hear enough of this on the 6PM news. What the economy is in my state may differ greatly from yours in a different state or different country. How it does or does not affect me is none of your business.

 

What you paid for the cruise- Seriously, you would ask someone that? Again, none of your business.

 

Weight- I don't give a rat's behind how much you do or don't weigh.

 

Opinions on what other people like to eat- What is this one, I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours? OK, I'm vegetarian are you happy now?

 

Exactly why we have MTD at a two top. :D And room service of course.

 

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That is much different... that is a question about a political system. It is not a discussion about politics and opinions. The question you have presented is far more educational and factual than a discussion about actual political activities.

 

Id disagree, i would say that was far more 'politics' than what everyone else describes which seems to be current affairs

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Id disagree, i would say that was far more 'politics' than what everyone else describes which seems to be current affairs

 

Current affairs however are what is referred to when they say never talk about politics because opinions vary greatly. Since we are a "democracy" in the US that is a very flammable topic, especially if you get a liberal and a conservative at the same table. Your definition of "talking about politics" does not appear to conform with what most in the US consider it to be and is far more acceptable with strangers.

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Big Keith, may I sit at your table? I think I'd enjoy a meal with you!

 

I'm not shy about discussing most topics, though I also don't care for a heated argument. But I think that it's possible to be civil even when disagreeing. A lot of it is in the way it's presented. Let's say, for example, that someone from a foreign country can't fathom why in the world the U.S. has the Electoral College. They could ask me, "I wonder if you wouldn't mind explaining the purpose of the Electoral College? I just don't see the logic in it." I'd be more than happy to take a stab at it. But if they say "You Americans are so stupid with that nutty Electoral College; the way we do it in _________ is so much better." Well, then, let's talk about the weather, shall we? :D

 

Or, let's say you do want to delve into politics. Again, there's a nice way and a not-so-nice way to do it. It's the difference between "Bush was a cowboy and a warmonger who alienated the whole world" and "I feel that Bush should not have invaded Iraq and should have focused more on building international consensus." Or, "Obama is a socialist who is hell-bent on destroying our economy" versus "I'm concerned that Obama's increased spending is unsustainable and will harm our economy."

 

You see the difference? Your opinion is expressed either way, but one of the ways will likely lead to argument and frustration; whereas the other MIGHT lead to an interesting exchange of thoughts and ideas. And if it doesn't? Well, then I'm always happy to talk about our next port of call!

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I would be gone from a table that chose politics as the subject of conversation.

Who wants to get heartburn discussing heated topics at dnner with strangers?

Not me.

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I understand that and can see the subjects aren't for everyone and if that was your choice I'd respect that.

 

But let's say, one night after a few meals we were talking about our countries and I said "I've always thought it strange but, how come it takes so long to elect a President". Would you feel uncomfortable answering that?

That would be more of a history/civics question to me, and I'd be OK with that.

To me, "politics" means a discussion of the political parties, their candidates, what their goals are, why they can or cannot accomplish them, etc. Those kinds of discussions can all too quickly devolve into heated debates, or worse, which is why "politics" is generally on the list of "topics not discussed".

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