Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Etiquette: Conversations

This is an area I am disadvantaged in. I am a terrible conversationist. Mostly it depends on the person, but in general, after so long, I just don't know what to say. Especially if I keep getting one word answers. That aside, here is what Emily Post has to say on the subject. Keep in mind, that the type of conversations she describes in this book are not private conversations. This advise is aimed more towards party and general society.

* Ideal conversation should be an exchange of thought. This one is pretty straight forward.
* Stop, Look, Listen! Now, if you are thinking this is beginning to sound like an afterschool special, I thought so too. In general, it boils down to think before you speak, and listen to what the other person has to say. Like the first rule, this is an exchange - not a monolougue, so listening is KEY!
* watch your bragging! Doting mothers take notice. Praise is okay in small amounts, but overdoing it will more than likely cause irritation.
* a person of silence is generally more respected than a blabber. Greatly paraphrased, but the thought it there.
* Once is effective, twice is boring. Unfortunately, the golden rule of three does not apply here. Please, try not to repeat yourself unless requested to do so.
* of course, the golden rule still applies: do not talk religion or politics!
* Humor should be light but unmalicious! Wit is good, but it needs to be kept in check.
*Go fishing for topics. This was something I already knew: throw out questions which will catch the other person in the conversation.
* this one I didn't really think about: Conversation is not a race that must be continued at a breakneck pace. Silence is not something to be scared of, again, in small amounts. There is such a thing as the long, awkward silence, but you know those when they come.
* Best to begin with a description of yourself at the introduction. Include items which will lead to conversations - job information, hobbies, etc
*Best/Most Stereotypical Advice: When talking to a man, ask his opinion on something, anything. When talking to a woman ask her about the "relative values of the things people do or think or try for." - basically anything about life, love, work, or amusement.
* Choose topics that appeal to you, but don't be too intense. This is a lesson that I have yet to learn.
* General something to keep in mind: conversations should be pleasant and agreeable! Keep personal remarks out - unless it is proper and pleasant -and be tactful! Also, don't "air your dirty laundry in public" Society is an agreeable place, so keep it that way.
* Definition of a bore: someone who insists on telling you, at length, something you don't want to hear about at all.

So those are Post's words of wisdom. I guess it is nothing new. Everyone knows these general rules, but seldom think of them. I've got the "listen" part down pretty good, and when I listen to people talking to each other, I hear every blunder, every wrong, every mistake. I am a go-betweener. When there is war in conversation, even a hint, I jump in and try to navigate around it. When there is a misunderstanding, I translate. All of this in the hopes of making life smoother. However, when it comes to my own conversations, I blunder constantly. I'd like to think that I don't hurt anyone's feelings, but there is, and always will be people that you just naturally rub the wrong way. There are also people who will never be on the same page with you - and those are the ones that you have to wonder if it is even worth talking to them at all. But there is something this chapter has not taught me, that I think I can add. So, here is my Teej Tip:
* Keep in mind that everyone is worth talking to. Actually, it is more like listening to. People are incredible, and really listening to what they have to say will teach you amazing things.

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