Precociously talkative since my days as a tiny tot, I have always loved to chat – be it with friends and family or my seat-mate on a flight. I adore sharing stories, learning about others, and engaging in beautiful conversation. You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Mrs. Buns, I’m a bit on the shy side when it comes to conversing, help!” Not to worry! From cocktail parties to blissful weddings to business functions, being a great conversationalist will give you confidence in any social or professional situation so you can shine like the sparkling star that you are. Often, these interactions can lead to connections, bonding, and perhaps even a wonderful new friend or job. And so, here are my modern social etiquette tips for being a great conversationalist. Enjoy!
- Greet them appropriately: If you’ve met this person before, greet them appropriately depending upon your familiarity (handshake, hug, air kiss, etc.), and if it’s your first meeting, then introduce yourself with a warm smile and handshake.
- Ask questions: The best way to get to know someone is to ask questions, a la the Barbara Walter’s interview. For instance, if you have just been introduced to a lovely lady at a bridal shower, politely and sincerely inquire how she knows the bride. Like a trail of dominoes, this will likely spark future topics and common ground to carry the conversation.
- Listen: Genuinely listen to what the other person has to say, as they will ask you questions as well and offer tidbits that might prompt additional questions and mutual interests.
- Refrain from interrupting: Sometimes this is tricky (we just get so excited!), however strive not to interrupt and let the other person finish their thought when chatting.
- Make eye contact: Eye contact is so important, as wandering baby blues will demonstrate a lack of interest. Also, nod occasionally to show your interest and understanding.
- Know current events: Have several current events in the back of your mind, as these can be great ice breakers to initiate conversation.
- Body language: Similar to eye contact, body language is a barometer for our engagement level so aim to stand up straight and smile.