Conversational Etiquette

One good thing about Covid is that we’re attending fewer rubber chicken dinners than before. Sit down dinners are really killers. Being trapped next to a blabbermouth, or worse, someone who doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about for two hours is absolute torture. Too often people of means are trying to impress every person they meet about their knowledge of every issue. Going dressed in a tuxedo makes the ordeal that much more intolerable. There are a few things I learned during my time on the social circuit that I want to share with you.

In the old days, before I became a teetotaler, I drank a half bottle of wine to assist me in getting through an affair. I don’t drink anymore, so I must deal with the travails of gala events without any medicinal assistance. Without booze, I effectively eliminate 80+ percent of the uncomfortable situations that I faced previously.

I’ve picked up a few things about conversational etiquette over the years that have kept me out of trouble. When I was drinking, I would try to remember the next day if I said something offensive during the gathering, too conservative or not politically acceptable. If so, I would text the offended and apologize. But this is not an issue anymore because I’m off the fire water.

Whether you’re on the bottle or not, the following are suggestions to keep in mind as you try to stay out of trouble. When you’re in conversation with one or more people, you should try not to be too aggressive or too condescending. Don’t be obnoxious. It’s worth it to avoid confrontation as some people get testy if they disagree with your off the wall perspectives. It’s difficult to avoid a skirmish if you are proselytizing conservative dogma chatting with a liberal. If you say Democrats don’t know what the hell they’re doing, which I do often, you’re in for a rough ride.

Political liberals are good sports until they suddenly turn on you for defending conservative principles. I was once at a dinner party with a famous TV talking head, a really dangerous situation for me. Naturally, I questioned him about his inane left leaning proclivities thinking I had a I had my ducks lined up for a frontal assault. The guy completely obliterated me factually and politically. I was devastated. The hostess’ brother who witnessed the slaughter told me that I should not be too upset because the talking head interviewed and spoke with government decision makers and people in the know every day. I’m still licking my wounds from that experience. It was like having road rage and finding out the other guy has a concealed weapon. 

I’ve turned over a few new leaves, especially avoiding vehicle confrontations. One is just to avoid political debate at both large and small social affairs. I’m not going to change anybody’s opinion, so it’s better to be quiet and avoid arguments. If I get dragged into a heated repartee, I walk away. I used to enjoy a spirited screaming match about politics, but no more.

And, I measure my comments before I speak. I consider what I’m going to say. A speaker only has a second or two to predict whether someone will blow their top after hearing what comes out of your mouth. This tactic will save you unnecessary heartburn. In fact, taking time before making inflammatory pronouncements, declarations, insults or criticisms about others should never be made without thinking a minute, an hour or a day. One needs to decide if the vitriol you are preparing to deliver is worth all the hassle that it will create.

In life with my family and friends, I have begun to apply the advice I’ve given you given in this post. Before starting World War III in my home with a family member or friend, I try to assess the impact and severity of my opinions. This is even more important before putting something in writing. Why create a trail of evidence that people can impeach one about at a later date?