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Etiquette Nanny
December 18, 2014

12 Big Rules To Making Small Talk

The Etiquette Nanny answers all your questions about living the good life.

Etiquette Nanny lays down the rules to sparkling conversation in a social setting

1. Everyone judges the entrance. Never rush into a room. Make a slow entrance, like a swagger James Bond in the iconic gun barrel clip.

2. Be on time. If you go late, conversational groups would have already been formed, and breaking into conversations will only be awkward.

3. Be well-informed. You don’t want to sound like Oscar the Grouch instead of Oscar Wilde. Make sure you are well-updated with the day’s headlines and current happenings on social media. So, if someone talks about breaking the Internet, you should look less puzzled and pun-ready.

4. Sex, religion and politics are less preferred topics of discussion. But if you must, because it’s relevant in some way (what kind of party
is it anyway?) then the best way would be to ensure that you are not ruffling any feathers and know where to draw the line. Don’t go S & M, pulling down a religion or voicing one-sided political opinions. If you must say something, make it relevant, interesting and tactful.

5. Play the three-three game. This cheat code requires you to meet three new people and find three things in common with those people. Once you find a common ground, you will naturally develop a rapport with them. If you don’t, kindly move on.

6. Learn the art of introductions. When making introductions, the focus should be the person’s name. The proper way to do this is by saying, “This is Anita, my sister” and not, “This is my sister, Anita”. This way, people are more likely to remember Anita by her name and not the fact that she is your sister.

7. For all those Miranda Priestlys who don’t remember names and aren’t blessed with Emilys to help them: The sure shot way of escaping an embarrassing situation is by first introducing your friend to the said person. And your friend will take off from there with a, “And you are?”

8. Avoid being a close talker. Respect spatial boundaries in a conversation. You don’t want to be in someone’s face, nor do you want to be screaming from across the room. For those who zoned out in value ed. class, the comfort zone between people is approximately one and a half to four feet.

9. Don’t indulge in one-upping. If someone talks about a piece of art they recently bought, you don’t need to prove yourself by telling them about the sculpture you just carved from the ancestral oak tree that you single-handedly took down. The best conversations are the ones that are warm and friendly.

10. Don’t overshare. We have all met that one person who pours his heart out, and in merely two minutes you already know of his terrible break-up, the mutual fund guys who’ve cheated him, and the fact that he won’t get a promotion.

11. This time round, it’s not me…it’s you! Good conversations require good listening skills. Remember to put the other person first, that way you will be less self-conscious. The easy trick here, is to make them feel important, and in turn they will make you important to them.

12. If all else fails, do what Eleanor Roosevelt taught us. She memorised topics ranging from A to Z, hoping that of all, at least something would spark a conversation. For example, A is for the Australian cricketer’s untimely death, B is Tendulkar’s new book, and C could be Cara Delevingne’s music video. At least you have Google.

Read here for our conversation-starter cheat sheet. You can thank us later.

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