Two friends discussing personal problems
Jon: What’s up Aaron? What did you want to talk about?
Aaron: I’m going to travel with my girlfriend to her home country, but it seems her parents don’t really want to meet me because I’m from a different culture.
Jon: Oh wow! It seems you have a hot potato in your hands. You will have to approach this issue with an open mind and try your best.
Aaron: I’ve been learning their language and cultural norms. I’m bringing a special gift for them too.
Jon: Remember that it’s a sensitive issue. Learn as you go. Hot potatoes are difficult to deal with.
Two co-workers discussing the holiday party
June: I’m trying to promote the Christmas party to everyone at work.
Alex: That’s great! Just remember that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Just promote it as an inclusive Holiday Party. You want to avoid any hot potatoes at work.
June: Yes, you’re right. I just want everyone at work to enjoy a good time. It’s not necessarily about Christmas.
Alex: Yep. Include everyone in a friendly way and you can avoid any issues at work. Those things are always tricky.
Meaning: A hot potato means a controversial or difficult problem that can be difficult or risky to deal with. In the first context, they had to deal with relationship and cultural issues that can affect multi-cultural couples. In the second context, both friends discuss having a holiday party without leaving anyone out, or making it seem exclusive. Not an easy thing to consider at work.