Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

Talking Taboo New Book by SHRM's Alex Alonso Now Available

Alexandria, Va. — SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) Chief Knowledge Officer Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, announced his new book, Talking Taboo: Making the Most of Polarizing Discussions at Work (SHRM; June 2, 2022; ISBN: 9781586445980), is now available.

It has always been standard practice to quell the urge to bring up divisive topics at work, but it has become increasingly difficult for executive leadership and HR to maintain this line. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, conversations in the workplace began to deepen into discussions of personal trials and tribulations.
In Talking Taboo, Alonso utilizes extensive findings from SHRM's 2020 Survey of Politics and Polarizing Discussions in the Workplace to examine the subject of uncomfortable speech in the workplace. His latest book explores the cause for minimizing specific topics in the workplace, how HR can serve as a mediator in situations when issues arise and how diverse opinions can embolden an organization's mission.
"Based on research we found at SHRM, 92% of workers have witnessed or been a part of taboo conversations in the workplace," Alonso writes. "Now more than ever, companies need to learn to navigate these new tenuous work environments. Talking Taboo offers real-world examples of respecting contesting views while maintaining a strong sense of community in the workplace."
As a subject matter expert in organizational psychology, Alonso speaks from both a personal and professional perspective on team diversity being a source of strength. SHRM's research has reported that stifling certain types of speech leads to knowledge silos and anxiety. The key is to equip leaders with the tools and information needed to engage in these conversations and build effective workplaces.
"Talking Taboo is the perfect book for the current workplace climate," said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, SHRM president and chief executive officer. "We should encourage employees to speak their minds and have them feel open to push back. HR needs to have the tools to best support their workforce, and this book provides a road map to how to approach each of these topics respectfully and honestly."
Talking Taboo is now available as an e-book via major book retailers. The paperback edition will be released in early June 2022. All author proceeds benefit the SHRM Foundation—which is committed to empowering HR as a social force for change. Learn more about Talking Taboo.
About the Author

Alexander Alonso, PhD, SHRM-SCP is the Society for Human Resource Management's (SHRM's) Chief Knowledge Officer leading operations for SHRM's Certified Professional and Senior Certified Professional certifications, research functions, and the SHRM Knowledge Advisor service. He is responsible for all research activities, including the development of the SHRM Competency Model and SHRM credentials.

During his career, he has worked with numerous subject matter experts worldwide with the aim of identifying performance standards, developing competency models, designing organizational assessments, and conducting job analyses. He was also responsible for working on contract task orders involving the development of measurement tools for content areas such as job knowledge (like teacher knowledge of instructional processes) and organizational climates (like organizational climate forecasting in military health care).

Dr. Alonso received his doctorate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Florida International University in 2003. His works have been recognized for their contribution to real-world issues. They include being recognized by the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (Division 14 of the APA; SIOP) with the 2007 M. Scott Myers Award for Applied Research in the Workplace for the development of the federal standard for medical team training, TeamSTEPPS; being awarded a 2009 Presidential Citation for Innovative Practice by the American Psychological Association for supporting the development of competency model for team triage in emergency medicine; and receiving the 2013 SIOP Distinguished Early Career Contributions for Practice Award.

Throughout his career, he has published works in peer-reviewed journals such as Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, Journal of Applied Psychology, International Journal of Selection and Assessment, People and Strategy, Personality and Individual Differences, Quality and Safety in Health Care, and Human Resources Management Review. He has also authored several chapters on community-based change initiatives in workforce readiness, as well as co-authoring Defining HR Success: A Guide to the SHRM Competency Model in Practice.

Dr. Alonso also served as a columnist analyzing major trends in the workforce for The Industrial Psychologist and HR Magazine. In addition, he has served on several professional society boards including the SIOP and the Personnel Testing Council of Metropolitan Washington.

About SHRM

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, creates better workplaces where employers and employees thrive together. As the voice of all things work, workers and the workplace, SHRM is the foremost expert, convener and thought leader on issues impacting today's evolving workplaces. With 300,000+ HR and business executive members in 165 countries, SHRM impacts the lives of more than 115 million workers and families globally. Learn more at and on Twitter @SHRM.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.