This week we’re talking TABOO

“Taboo topics” are fascinating, aren’t they? I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy, and I love watching how comedians use taboo topics to entertain and shock their audiences – be it talk about sex, relationships, money, profanity, I could go on.  Have you ever noticed that taboo topics are also commonly referenced in clickbait headlines?

talking taboo mouth lips (unsplash girl with a red hat)

unsplash girl with red hat

I’ve got lots to say about TABOO TOPICS.  You can hear all of it in this week’s podcast episode:

🌐 Click HERE to listen directly on the Talk About Talk website


🎧 Click HERE to listen on your favourite podcast player


📄 Click HERE to read the printable shownotes

Read on to learn:

  • What is taboo?
  • Communicating about taboo topics (an observation)
  • Taboo topics over time

Let’s do this!


What is TABOO?


The word TABOO comes from the Tongan TAPU, the Fijian TABU, or the Polynesian TABU, and it translates to “unacceptable,” “prohibited,” “disallowed,” and/or “forbidden.” 

Talking TABOOS !

TABOOS are “behaviours or words that are sacred or prohibited based on morals, religion, or norms.”

  • words or behaviours – our actions and what we write/say
  • sacred or prohibited – see synonyms above
  • based on morals, religion or norms – so taboos exist everywhere!

Communicating about TABOOs – an Observation

I have an interesting observation to share with you. 

Currently, the #1 most downloaded TalkAboutTalk podcast episode is #58: COMMUNICATE WIITH CONFIDENCE Part 1: Mental Preparation.  I get frequently get questions from listeners and readers about Confidence, as well as a few other topics such as Personal Branding, Networking, and Storytelling

communicating with confidence

No one has EVER asked me a question about Taboo Topics. People don’t seem to want to talk about Taboo Topics.

Andrea Wojnicki talking taboo topics

Here’s where it gets interesting.  The #1 most visited, highest traffic post on the Talk About Talk website is a blog I wrote about Taboo Topics over two years ago.

My conclusion?

People want to read about taboo topics,
not talk about them.

My question:

Will they want to listen to
a podcast about taboo topics?  

My guess is YES.  What do you think? I’ll keep you updated!

TABOO Topics Over Time

In this week’s podcast episode “Talking Taboo Topics,” I share a list of topics that evolved over time from taboo (prohibited and sacred) to acceptable.  For example:
  • phone calls after 9pm (the shock!)
  • tattoos (that’s crazy!)
  • women wearing pants (imagine!)
code-switching across generationsimage: Unsplash @ bostonpubliclibrary
Women wearing pants? WAIT – is she TEXTING?
This evolution in taboo topics is a big reason why we talk with our grandparents differently than we talk with our peers.  The generational cohorts consider different topics to be taboo. You can learn more about this in my interview with copy strategist Tom Megginson where we talk about Personal Branding, Authenticity and T.M.I..
So be careful what you talk about
with different generations.

ok boomer
image: Unsplash @ lucarinigiac

Two examples of taboo topics that have evolved significantly – RACISM and POLITICS:

  • Race & Racism has long been considered a taboo topic (see e.g. here and here).  But recently, racism has quickly evolved from taboo to something we need to proactively talk about (see here and here).
  • Consider how our vocabulary has evolved to commonly include terms such as discrimination, systemic oppression, implicit bias, #blacklivesmatter, …
racism and covid-19
 (image: unsplash @ visuals)
  • Politics may be an exception to our modern-day relaxation of various taboos. Recently, growing divisiveness has resulted in politics reverting to its taboo status.  You’re either red, conservative, and republican, or you’re blue, progressive/liberal, and democrat.  There’s no in-between, and there’s certainly no discussion. At least not in polite company, am I right?
politics are taboo topics
unsplash brian wertheim
oh dear…


I hope you enjoy this week’s podcast on TALKING TABOO TOPICS.  Here’s a list of past Talk About Talk podcast episodes where we dig deep on specific taboo topics:

PROFANITY: Talking Taboo

forward this email to anyone who might like to learn about TABOOs and COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Thank you! 

Talk soon,

Dr. Andrea Wojnicki
Chief Talker & Communication Coach

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