“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” — Dorothy Nevill, British author.
Think back to the gatherings where you have had the most fun. Has it been the food? The music? Or the company — and the conversation? As a guest, the most enjoyable parties are often the ones where the conversation flows easily and never seems to cease all evening long. But, for many, knowing what to say or not to say — and when — does not come naturally. “Sharing a meal with friends or family is supposed to be a pleasant experience,” says Jay Remer, a consultant and expert at The Etiquette Guy. When the conversation turns sour or gets heated, it's sure to upset some guests — literally leaving some with a sour taste in their mouth (or a lump in their throat). Why? When you eat, there are delicate chemical reactions taking place that you don’t want to disrupt. According to Remer, “if you’re agitated, you won’t properly digest your meal and will feel miserable.”
Whether you’re having a group of friends who you haven’t seen in months over for dinner, attending the family reunion, or attending a cocktail party in a new town where you’ll know practically no one, don’t be the one to walk away from the evening regretting you opened your mouth — read our do's and don'ts first.
Everyone can talk about themselves — but staying silent and listening can be a challenge. How many times have you been stuck next to a person who talks incessantly or interrupts you with incorrect statements? Or worse, always seems to tune you out? According to Remer, a good conversation at a gathering shouldn’t be about you but the other person. By listening, you’re showing respect — and it gives you the chance to learn something new about the other person. So make eye contact and show the other person you’re listening (even if you’re not) with occasional nods or mmms of agreement.