What To Avoid During Formal Conversation
In a formal social scenario, it would take more than good clothes and a pleasant looking appearance to be able to present yourself well. How you converse with the hosts and their other guests can say a lot about your social skills.
In some circles, especially when the guests include important business partners or high profile personalities, your manner could result in whether you may get invited or be excluded from such a social event the next time.
Below are some suggestions for improving your social skills to properly blend and get by in a formal event:
Be aware of your speaking voice
To talk in a loud manner may give the impression of an arrogant and overbearing personality. It may also speak of how uneducated you are. At the same time, speaking in an inaudible manner may indicate a person with little social skills. In both cases, you may end up irritating a lot of guests and this could mean social suicide. Your voice either draws people to you or turns them away. Speak in a modulated tone and do away with the awkwardness.
Be aware of your body language
Your hand movements must be limited to your own space since other guests may find your gestures inexcusable. To overstretch, reach over, slap, clap, playfully punch or high-five someone in a formal social setting is a no-no. Perhaps the one allowable physical contact you may have with another guest is a very firm handshake.
Be cautious of the topics you open
Conversations in a social setting may be a discussion on many topics ranging from politics to business or sports and entertainment. However, discussing lives of other people such as your common friends or acquaintances, particularly when they are also invited guests in this event, should be avoided. Mentioning a few things about your personal life is acceptable. But also be conscious of sharing too much. Avoid hogging the conversation because talking too much about yourself may either bore other guests or alienate them.
Be present and in the moment
Put on silent mode or turn off your nifty gadgets like cellular phones, personal digital assistants or something similar. If you were to take a very important call, leave the premise and do it privately, away from the group. Don’t take calls within your circle or while the other person you are talking to is beside you. It is rude to do this.
Be a good conversationalist
To be one is to have the ability to not only speak properly but to also listen when spoken to. Allow other people to also share their opinion. Interrupting them while they are talking is thoughtless and disrespectful. For some people, it may mean you are being argumentative and hostile.
Be aware of the person you are speaking to
- Call people by their appropriate names. If you are familiar with each other, call each other by first names. If you are in a conversation with a VIP or maybe your boss, call them by their appropriate titles e.g. Sir or Madam.
- Some people may find difficulty in carrying a conversation while dining at the table. In this case, basic table manners must be applied, such as: avoid talking when your mouth is full. And if the other guest is also in the middle of chewing his food, let him eat quietly first and engage him in a conversation when he is done.
- Eye contact is crucial. It is a way to engage other people into the conversation. Avoiding eye contact may indicate your lack of interest with the person you are with and that could be insulting. However, don’t overdo it to the point of staring, as this is also rude.
- Avoid interrogating too much; especially if this is the first time you have been introduced to the person. Be aware of their body language as this could indicate whether or not you are already going over the boundaries of asking too many questions about them.
- Avoid providing unsolicited advice. Unless they are confiding in you or sharing something to you in confidence, it is best to hold off suggesting or counselling another person. The best solution you can offer is a simple nod and an acknowledgement of what they have just shared.