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How to hold a better dinner conversation at events.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThankfully everyone is not like me, I feel awkward when I go into new situations like a gala dinner with people around the table that I don’t know.  I am constantly trying to find the right things to say and over loud music that sometimes comes out a bit flat.  So to help myself and others I have done some research into how to be interesting at that social gathering where you know no one or very few.

  • Have a list of topics ready.  If you are attending an event that you know absolutely no one or don’t think you have anything in common with; then prepare a mental list of ideas for conversation topics so that you don’t panic as to what to say next.
  • Ask open-ended questions.  Try to ask questions that are open ended, so that people must elaborate and give you some insight into them as a person.  Below are only a few examples: 
    • Where did you grow up?
    • Do you have any pets?
    • Do you have any siblings?
    • What type of phone do you have?
    • What else are you doing this weekend?
  • Ask a second question.  Refrain from answering your own question and instead ask a second question.  This can relate to some information gained from the first question but try to make it once again open ended.   Some examples are:
    • How did it feel about that?
    • Can you elaborate on that?
    • Why do you think that is important to you?
    • Do you think you would have answered the same way five years ago?
  • Know what to avoid.  You know that old rule: never talk about religion, politics, money, relationships, family problems, health problems, just to name a few.  The risk of saying something that may offend is too high so it is best to steer clear of these topics.
  • Safe Topics.
    • The other persons interests and hobbies
    • Ask about their family
    • Find out if they have had any interesting travels recently
    • What is their favourite foods and beverages
    • Find out what brought them to the event this evening
    • Offer a genuine compliment on something such as their dress or hair
  • Extra Tips that may be helpful.
    • If it’s your first time talking to the person, try to tie the topic to something related to the situation at hand, rather than just jumping into a random topic.
    • If you are in a group, make sure you make everyone feel included. If you start talking to only one person in a group and expect others to silently observe your conversation, the situation can get awkward for everyone.
    • Don’t just mindlessly work through the list of questions mentioned above. It will make the other person feel interrogated.
    • Listen carefully, and try to relate. After someone has answered, relate your own experience to something they mentioned, or answer the question yourself, even if they don’t ask you.
    • Start with the first thing and that is…If you are meeting someone new, remember the person’s name!!! Sounds so easy, but easier to forget as well…
    • Listening to their answers might open up other possible conversation topics.
    • Think before you speak. You cannot take back things that you have said to people. Also, people remember those conversations that you have had with them, so don’t act unfriendly unless you want them to remember you that way.
    • Avoid “one word answers” (such as “Yes”, “No”, “Fine”…) as much as possible.
    • If it’s your first time with the person, try to avoid sarcasm, though if they’re the sarcastic type, you might want to tease them with your wit. Still, don’t overdo it — no one likes too much sarcasm.
    • Also, avoid from complimenting TOO much on one thing of someone’s. Or else they might think that you are just being rude and playing around with them. But if you are serious, act serious!
    • Be friendly and don’t insult anyone.
    • Read up on current events. Read the paper and browse social bookmarking sites for current, interesting stories.
    • Think outside the box and Good Luck!!