Tips for Talking to Poor People

Poor people can be found everywhere, despite the best efforts of high society. There may be times when you are confronted by a poor person and it engages you in conversation.

The more adventurous among you may even wish to learn more about the poor by deliberately walking in the midst of them, not unlike Henry V’s nighttime stroll through his ranks of common soldiers and plebian Welsh longbowmen. Here are some important things to remember when talking to the poor.

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Poor people are very basic and should be treated as such (public domain image, Wikimedia Commons)

Speak Slowly and Clearly

Speak slowly and clearly. Avoid all long words and expressions that may be unique to your own social circle. You may be able to form a greater bond with the poor by using some of their own lingo or by speaking in a guttural, uncouth manner.

Find Some Common Ground with the Poor

This may seem like an impossible task but, believe it or not, you may share some common ground with poor people. They are, after all, human just like us! Talk about simple things such as the weather, popular music and dogs (avoid show breeds and foxhounds). If you are familiar with any pop culture celebrities then you might want to throw some names into the mix. Do not mention any highbrow or classic artistes such as Bach, Damien Hurst or Marcel Proust. Poor people will simply not understand.

Don’t Talk About Money with Poor People

While you are probably earning at least $300,000 annually, most poor people are earning only a fraction of this sum. Some, incredibly, do not even work at all and have no savings whatsoever. It is therefore unwise to talk about money as the poor person may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed by both its failure to earn and overall social worthlessness.

Don’t Stand Downwind

An unfortunate side effect of poorness is a low level of personal hygiene. A poor person’s diet consists of fast food and cheap whisky at the higher end of the scale. The poorest poor people eat almost anything they can find, including items found in other people’s trash (apple cores, truffle pips, champagne corks etcetera). This diet leads to bodily problems such as gas and rancid, stale breath. Poor people often wash themselves in rivers which the poor people themselves have polluted, an unfortunate vicious cycle that leads to whiffy lower-classes and stinky city rivers. Desperately unfortunate, it really is, but thankfully confined largely to the city and not to our beautiful countryside.

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The general attire and odor of poor people has not changed for hundreds of years (public domain image, Wikimedia Commons)

Watch Your Possessions

Most poor people are thieves. Indeed, many financially secure people were once poor but they became stable through thievery. With this in mind, it is imperative that you keep an eye on your possessions while talking to the poor. Try not to look overly concerned as this may unsettle the poor person (in the worst case scenario it could provoke an attack). You may wish to have your chauffeur standing nearby in case of problems.

Don’t Touch

Never touch a poor person, neither out of curiosity nor through the affectionate advances of the poor subject itself. If the poor person does try to shake hands with you or, God forbid, embrace you, step away quickly. It will be difficult to do this in a respectful manner but you really have few options in this instance. Always remember that your personal safety is paramount when dealing with the poor.

  • By following all of the above rules you should hopefully enjoy a rewarding, if not entirely pleasant, experience. The whole engagement should prove memorable both for you and, even more so, for the poor person involved.

  12 comments for “Tips for Talking to Poor People

  1. Reader
    July 14, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Good article. However you don’t need a chauffeur or make 300k a year to be concerned about how to talk to poor people.

  2. July 15, 2011 at 7:42 am

    Thank you Reader, your points are certainly valid. Many of us struggle when it comes to communicating with the poor, chauffeur or not. I must say, however, that my chauffeur, Sebastien, has saved me on many occasions.

  3. Caroline
    June 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Wow.. are you out of your mind? I think you should see a psychiatrist to help you with your twisted way of thinking…

    • June 22, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      Dear Caroline,

      I went to a psychiatrist once, but he was a terrible little man, awfully rude and lacking even the most basic social etiquette. Besides, one does not need a psychiatrist when one has gin and tonic.

  4. Mary
    April 29, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    How sad,you see the poor as a desease.I think you need to find some poor people and take them out for dinner.Maybe than the ice around your heart will melt and you will be human once again.I have been rich and poor and I tell you I was still worth the same to my family.Being poor makes you sensitive and full of faith in God.The rich miss out,they don’t know what it’s like to have God send the things you prayed for the night before.Its amazing how God looks after the poor.

    • August 15, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      Dear Mary. I often take poor people to dinner, firstly because they do need feeding occasionally and secondly because my friends find it rather amusing. Not all of my friends, obviously, just the more liberal or left-leaning members of my social circle, which tends to be at the very, very least upper-middle class.

      We therefore seem quite similar, you and I, but I cannot agree with your notion of the rich missing out on God’s gifts. I often pray to God, and he often sends me the things I pray for. For example, last year I prayed for a hat by designer Philip Treacy, not dissimilar to that worn by Princess Beatrice of York back in 2011, and the following year my third husband gave me the exact hat just in time for the Henley Regatta! What a joy!

  5. Lisa
    May 28, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Is this intended to be satirical, or is this really a serious article…?

    • August 15, 2014 at 10:56 pm

      I’m not quite sure I understand, Lisa. The article is serious, yes. Are you suggesting that poor people are satirical? That’s an interesting idea and perhaps quite true.

  6. Ol Crusty
    September 1, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Quite the interesting and educational article, I must say. I would quibble over a few details, but such isnt the point, I suppose. For you it’s gin and tonic; I prefer Amaretto straight, or perhaps a nice Mojito, during the summer months. Poe-tay-toe / poe-tah-toe, really.

    I did notice you overlooked a rare class of poor; those that choose to be poor. There are some who simply want to live extremely simple lives of limited means. They believe that consumerism is a disease of the soul, and the desire for money is a lethal poison. So, once they have just barely enough; the most basic needs of life met, they stop. They seek to aquire no more. They live like monks. They are showered; they are educated; they are intelligent. But they are still lacking in funds. It is an interesting mindset; you should find one to speak to sometime.

    • September 1, 2014 at 10:44 am

      People who choose to be poor? Oh my! I most certainly did overlook that class of person, and I must admit that such a though never crossed my mind! What a peculiar breed that must be. I would assume with some sort of mental defect.

      But yes, you are correct, I must find one to show my friends. Can they be found moving among the normal poor, or do they inhabit different areas? And would they be similar to “Hippies”? My dear Uncle Cyril often bemoans the “damn idle Hippies” that set up camp near the village. They are rarely showered, but they certainly seem more able to communicate than others that cling to the lowest rungs of society.

      Oh my, how very interesting!

  7. Jake
    May 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    What in the hell?!! Who do you think you are talking about the poor in such disrespectful and boastful manner?! I read the comments and no one is fooled or amused by your “clever” or sarcastic responses. You could never possibly understand what the poor live through so quit wasting your time. I came to this article to find out how to show love to the laborers around me but instead I get this humiliating heartless garbage. “God forbid, embrace you”?!!!! Are you out of your mind?? You are suggesting a very selfish, self-centered, resentful attitude and I hope you realize this. Poor people need love and they should receive it no matter how physically filthy they are. I am angry but I also sincerely hope that one day you come to realize your mistake and show kindness to all people. Sarcasm does not make you sound smart

    • May 10, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Dear Jake. Thank you for your impassioned commentary. You say that you want “to show love to the laborers around me.” By this, I assume you mean your house staff (servants, cooks, chambermaids etc). I find the best way to show appreciation for the help is to keep them well fed on all the best leftovers (apart from the beef and pork, which obviously goes to the hounds) and make sure they are paid promptly at the end of each month. And, of course, let them speak only when spoken too — they need to know their limits in order to feel secure and ultimately happy. I have a particularly temperamental groundsman, a gruff but talented man from the north of England. I don’t recall his name at this moment (Ted, Tim, Tod?), but I keep him well in check by following the basic rules for staff as laid out above. I’m sure you can keep your laborers equally content by following my example. Thanks you again, and God bless.

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