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Etiquette Daily. The Etiquette Scholar blog answering you dining etiquette questions.
- "stop" - do not speak without stopping to think about what you are about to say;
- "look" - pay attention to the expression of the person with whom you are talking;
- "listen" - listening is the most important conversational skill.
- "watch" - keep your eyes on whomever you are talking with.
Relax and listen. Most conversational errors are committed those who talk too much.
The practical rule for continuing a conversation is just take it one word at a time. Don't think about the entire conversation, just respond to one-step-at-a-time.
Listen carefully to your own words and pay attention to the reaction of the person you are speaking to. You must think before speaking.
While some people have a natural charm they can rely on during conversation, most of us are best served if we rely on sincerity, clarity, and an intelligent choice of conversational subject.
Introduce yourself immediately. Many times it is up to you as a guest to make your own introductions.
Always start by giving your own name. "Hello. I'm George Washington," you may say, extending your hand if you wish. You can also add, "I'm a friend of Judy's." If this does not elicit a response other than "Hello," you may then say "And you are... ?" or "And what is your name?"
In talking to a person you have just met and about whom you know nothing, the best approach is to find a common interest.
Start by referring to your host or hostess: How do you know them?
At some time during dinner talk to both your neighbors.
Today, conversation at the table often includes three or four people sitting near one another. If you notice that one of your neighbors is left with no one to talk to, either include him in your conversation or turn at a break in your discussion to talk to him for a while.
Even if you nothing in common with your neighbor, look around. You can talk about:
- the food and wine
- the decor,
- the music,
- the fashions on display,
- and the people around you.
When a foreign visitor who speaks little English is your guest in America, choose universal enjoyments like music concerts or dance performances.
Bring a friend who is proficient in your guest's language if possible.
Discussing Business at the Table (with additional conversation tips for small talk and conversation skills)
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
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