Saturday, September 30, 2006

Conversation Etiquette

I am currently reading a book entitled, “The Book of Etiquette” written by Michael Macfarlane. The book considered the usual: where to place the dessert spoon, the rules of tipping, party invitations, and dealing with late guest. It also addresses the etiquette of the Internet and a few tips on traveling abroad and the customs of other countries. It is quite an interesting book to read. I want to share with you the conversation etiquette.
Conversation Etiquette

Conversation has been compared to dancing, fencing, and chess. It can be uplifting, boring, revealing, exciting, painful, tense, awkward, or comfortable. The first thing to learn in the art of conversation is the difficult task of being a good listener. Any conversation will be less than pleasant if you are not in the conversation as an active participant. According to the author, if you are not carrying the conversation and the subject is of no interest to you or simply bores you, fake it. Good manners demand that you attempt a participation in the conversation subject if only to learn, and all the while appear interested. If you are carrying or dominating the conversation, stop and listen to yourself. Make the necessary adjustments to keep from boring others.

The be physically present. When you are conversing with someone, give them your mental and physical attention. Do not look over his shoulder to see who else may be in the room. Do not look away to find the food or examine the décor of the room.

Walking into any social event where you do not know most everyone is a conversation challenge. There are a few people who are who have the easy presence to begin a conversation with anyone and move from person to person effortlessly. The rest of us need to think about this situation.

Bad conversation clichés are better left unsaid. Introduce yourself, smile, and try not to say anything completely absurd. Weather is usually a bad topic unless it is on everyone’s mind. A compliment on the person’s attire or appearance is good, as are comments about the economy, something in the news, or a common professional topic.

The author also stressed to avoid beginning a conversation in an argumentative tone or taking up a position that you know may be controversial. Still, the best advice is to be yourself, smile, listen for a bit to see the direction of the talk or pick up something from the introduction and step in ever so lightly.

Personal Questions and Hot Topics
Personal questions are difficult to handle even between two good friends who are alone. In asocial situation, keep it simple and light. Sometimes this flows into meaningless chatter, but that is better than an insult or an offense. You can admire a dress without asking where it came from or how much it cost. You can wish someone a return to health without commenting on an obvious limp or scar.

Do not ask questions about someone’s financial situation, the condition of their marriage, or the current relationship with a former beau or spouse. Unless you are at a political party rally or in a church meeting, it is usually good to avoid politics and religion.

If you feel strongly about a subject and are not sure with people you know feel the same, it is usually better not to get entangled in the subject.

Complaints, Sarcasm & Humor
Here are the three more conversational directions or insertions that can cause some real problems, either for the speaker or the listener. No one wants to hear your complaints. When an acquaintance or a person just introduced at a social situation asks how you are, they are simply conforming to polite conversation. In return, you say you are just fine or some such, so they are not forced to share your burdens while at a party.

Sarcasm is also a sword better left sheathed. You will find, perhaps more often than you wish, persons, who know no other form of attempted humor than sarcasm. Unless you consider yourself the master of the one-line retort, do not attempt to answer sarcasm with sarcasm. This type of response too easily misses the mark and is simply offensive. Sarcasm is usually best met with a very mellow and general response or a delicate change of subject.

If you walk into a conversation and feel you must say something very humorous to break the ice- don’t. Humor is a delicate thing. When you share a sense of humor with someone, it can be wonderful and you can bounce with quips off one another comfortable all night. If you are not aware of what a person or group of people consider humorous, proceed slowly.

Here is a brief summation of conversational bad manners to avoid at all costs.

~ The Bore – This one generally talks about himself or herself and has no patience for anyone else.

~ The Know It All – Many times at social gatherings you will meet people who really do know a lot. These people are generally quite reserved about their knowledge. Beware the persons who want to play can-you-top-this with every subject presented.

~ The Loud Mouth – Conversation is generally a quiet pastime, occasionally interrupted by genuine laughter.

~ The Whiner – You may have some very legitimate problems, but a social gathering is not the place to air them. Call your priest, pastor, mother-in-law, or a close friend concerning these issues. However, when you go to a party or dinner, leave these issues at home.

~ The Ferret – This one asks the very personal questions, tries to unearth as much dirt as possible and is oblivious to the offense he or she gives in an attempt to dig out more, while exhibiting an insincere façade of interest or concern.

~ The Scanner – This one seems to have a head that is attached similarly to that of a barn owl. While conversing with you, they can scan the entire room for a full 360 degrees in search of persons more attractive or more important than you.

~ The Linguist – Regardless of the makeup of the accumulated visitors, this one needs all to be aware they speak another language.

If you are one of these, take heed.
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Hello! Thank you for visiting my blog. I'm Vivian from Ohio, USA. I am passionate about empowerment, education, personal and social growth. I love positive things, fashion, beauty, photography, travel, saving money, and making friends. Read More

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