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THE BLOG

Why we Don't ask if Someone has Children in the UK

conversation skills
Is it okay to ask if Someone has Children?

Is it okay to ask if someone has children? For many women, this can be a dreadfully painful question. After receiving several requests to address this issue, I decided to write this article to clarify whether it is taboo.

Firstly, I would like to say how passionate I am about confident conversation skills. So many of my clients feel nervous about knowing what to say when they meet people for the first time, and so this is a subject that I teach regularly and in-depth.

After all, speaking well and asking the right questions is the foundation of building a good network of like-minded friends and business contacts.

Secondly, it’s also essential to mention that culturally the subject of children varies hugely across the world, but I am, as always, addressing this from a British perspective.

So, let’s begin this sensitive subject… 

 

DO YOU EVER ASK SOMEONE OF THEY HAVE CHILDREN?

If so, you are not alone. This, along with the question, “What do you do?” is the most common mistake in the conversation department.

 

WHY IS IT WRONG?

First, you need to consider the answer you may receive; for example, if the person says, “Yes”, then that usually doesn’t pose any problems as most people are happy to speak about their children.

But what if they say “No”? How are you going to continue the conversation? Perhaps you might say something like:

· “Are you planning to have them?”

· “Would you like to have them?” 

· If the person says no, you might ask, “Why not?” or "Is that by choice?"

· “Oh, don’t worry, there’s plenty of time.”

· “You’re probably better off without them.” 

Now, you have opened up a big hole that you need to dig yourself out of and put the other person in a very embarrassing and possibly upsetting position. All in the first few moments of meeting them! 

The person’s reasons for not having children could be any of the following: 

· They are unable to have them.

· They have experienced miscarriages.

· They have given birth to a stillborn baby.

· Their child may have died.

· They may not wish to have children.

 

IS IT OKAY TO ASK CLOSE FRIENDS AND RELATIVES?

The rules about personal questions apply even when you know the person well and are possibly even related! You should wait for the person to broach the subject, and if they don’t, you must assume they don’t wish to discuss it. Or ever.

That is their prerogative and should be respected.

Being a good and confident conversationalist is not a science; it’s an art that anyone can learn. So, don’t worry if you are getting a few things wrong; we all have, but try and practice the right questions, and you will see the difference it really makes when building relationships.

All of which is theirs and their partner’s business only. And so, like all personal questions, they are taboo subjects, so please don’t ask them!

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