Starting a Conversation

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The art of conversation takes practice, and it’s not as hard as one may think. It will take knowledge, patience and time, but you can learn to relax and enjoy a great conversation.  Here’s a list some helpful hints on how to become a great conversationalist.

Be well versed on current events.  Make it your mission to be a generalist. Read local and national newspapers and magazines. Be up-to-date on current events in your country and around the world.

Questions?  People loved to be asked questions. Ask people for their opinions, ask what they think of various topics. Add what your opinion is; but steer clear of controversial topics.

Listen well.  This is a very important part of conversation. A good conversationalist is interested in what the other has to say, and can listen well. Pay attention to what is being said. Conversation happens in turns, each person taking a turn to listen, and then a turn to listen or respond.

Going to an Event.  Before you go to an event, think of a few questions you can ask to start a conversation. When you arrive at your hosts home, take a look around and inside their home, see what may be their interests. If your hosts, for example are interested in art, you most likely will see many paintings or artistic features displayed around the home.

Know when the conversation is over.  Even the best conversations eventually run out of steam. Shake hands with the other person, and be sure to tell them that you’ve greatly enjoyed talking with them. Ending a conversation on a positive note, will leave a good impression, and likely bring them back later!

The Art of Introduction

Human beings are naturally social creatures. Many of us love the novelty of meeting new people and making new friends. But this would not be possible without a common language and a set of rules for putting it into practice. That set of rules is called… etiquette!
Introductions

Fear not. Everyone makes mistakes and gets a little nervous when introducing people.
If you make a mistake don’t worry about it, and certainly don’t fuss. Apologize, if you feel that is appropriate, and get it right next time.
When introducing people, make sure both parties can clearly hear what you are saying. An important point to remember is that, as with written communication, you must be consistent about the use or non-use of titles. In other words, say you are introducing two of your friends, an older one titled ‘Lady Sara’ and a younger one titled ‘Mrs. Jones’. If you refer to your friend as Smith as ‘Lady’, you must refer to your friend Jones as ‘Mrs’ when you introduce them. Otherwise, it’s Sara Smith and Mary Jones.

So here’s some helpful tips on making the right introductions:

1. Men are introduced to women, although there are exceptions. (See point 2).
Formally, you would say, ‘Mrs. Watson, may I introduce Mr. Chapman.’
Less formally, you might say, ‘Sharon Watson, this is Duncan Chapman.’
Informally, it might be as simple as, ‘Sharon, this is Duncan.’

2. If the man is very well known, the other person is introduced to him. For example, ‘Professor Bell, may I introduce Mrs. Foster.’
Less formally, you might say, Phillip Bell, this is Rose Foster.’
Informally, ‘Phillip this is Rose’

3. Younger women are introduced to older women.
Formally: ‘Mrs. Martin, may I introduce Miss Dalafas.’
Less Formally: Amiee Martin, this is Vanessa Dalafas’
Informally: ‘Amiee this is Vanessa’

4. Younger men are introduced to older men.
Formally: ‘Mr. Groves, may I introduce Mr. Donaldson.’
Less formally: ‘Peter Groves this is John Donaldson’
Informally: ‘Peter this is John’

5. Children are always introduced to adults. The adult’s title should be used unless you know that he or she prefers not to have it mentioned.
‘Mr. Stewart, I don’t think you have met my daughter, Mary’

6. When you introduce people of the same sex and similar age, the one who is less important should be introduced to the other.
Formally: ‘Dr. Noble, may I introduce Mr. Ord.’
Less formally: John Noble this is Ian Ord.’
Informally: ‘John this is Ian’
It’s a tricky one, this, if you are introducing two people with big egos so be careful who you choose. If you want to be the soul of tact, and wriggle out of it, you may say, ‘I’m sure you two notables must know each other already’ and leave it to them to introduce themselves.

7. Couples should be introduced separately, not as a unit, even if they are married and the wife has taken her husband’s name.
Formally, she is Mrs. Jennifer Latimer.
Informally, ‘Jennifer Latimer.’
If the wife uses her maiden name in business, she may or may not want to use it in private life. Find out before you make the introductions. If she prefers her maiden name, then formally she is Ms. Jennifer Ward.

8. If a woman is a widow, she is still addressed by her late husband’s name – that is, Mrs. Jennifer Latimer. If she is divorced, it is not correct of her to use her former husband’s given name, so she becomes Mrs. Jennifer Ward.

It is also important that before you leave two people you’ve just introduced, to rummage for some topic they might have in common, give them a lead:
“Dr. Noble has just done a interesting search on the common cold.’ The Wards have just moved from Copenhagen to Århus.’

What to Reply When You Are Introduced

‘How do you do’ is the formal response, when you are introduced to someone. On no means, take it as a enquiriy about your health, by saying, ‘I’m well’ or worse, ‘I’m good’. A popular, reply is ‘Hello’ which should do in occasions, other than strictly formal ones; some people say ‘Hi’ but that is too casual for anything than the most informal occasions.
It is permissible to say, ‘I’m delighted to meet you!’ but ‘Pleased to meet you’ is an absolute no-no’.

Here is some helpful tips, when you are introduced to someone.
· Greet the person with a cheery smile
· Look the person in the eye.
· When you meet someone that you have never met before, repeat their name. An easy tip, on how to remember their name is to associate their name with a rhyme: Fairy Mary; Tom the Pom; Phil the bill; racy Tracy. Make sure any irreverence remains unspoken.

Photography Credits (Danish Royal Watchers)