Global Eti­quette: En­joy­able Con­ver­sa­tions

Luxe Beat Magazine - - Contents - By Mar­a­lyn D. Hill Travel

What’s ac­cept­able con­ver­sa­tion around the globe varies some­what, but the com­mon cour­te­sies seem to re­main. I’ll try to in­clude as many as pos­si­ble.

Many of us know those who ap­pear to be the life of the party, but are they really? Or do they seem to be tak­ing cen­ter stage and be­com­ing bores? Oth­ers have a tremen­dous fear of speak­ing up be­cause they don’t think they have some­thing in­ter­est­ing to say. Hope­fully, we will have some hints that will help both cat­e­gories.

A good con­ver­sa­tion con­sists of an equal amount of give and take from the par­ties in­volved, al­low­ing for opin­ions from a num­ber of par­tic­i­pants. None of us enjoy the in­di­vid­ual who mo­nop­o­lizes the room.

For those who want to cap­ture the con­ver­sa­tion, de­velop your lis­ten­ing skills. That is one of the most use­ful tal­ents you can ac­quire. Be­ing quiet and lis­ten­ing gives you the op­por­tu­nity to ask in­tel­li­gent ques­tions.

The speaker will be im­pressed be­cause you were lis­ten­ing, but so will ev­ery­one else. Some­thing that isn’t ap­pre­ci­ated is to pre­tend that you are lis­ten­ing while day­dream­ing or oth­er­wise al­low­ing your mind to float away. That can ap­par­ent to those around you. How­ever a good lis­tener, one who looks the speaker in the eyes, will make a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion.

If it is dif­fi­cult for you to speak up, you’ll no­tice that those who are not lis­ten­ing well are apt to ask fool­ish ques­tions or make re­marks that are not per­ti­nent. Good lis­ten­ers do not make th­ese types of er­rors. To get started, you might say: “Could you tell us a lit­tle more about...”

If you fear get­ting into con­ver­sa­tions, do it slowly, like walk­ing, one step at a time. We need to think be­fore we speak. You don’t want to talk about work to some­one who has no in­ter­est in what you do. How­ever, show­ing in­ter­est in a mix of peo­ple can ad­vance your con­ver­sa­tional skills.

If you find your­self next to a stranger at a party or event, in­tro­duce your­self im­me­di­ately. In ad­di­tion to be­ing good man­ners, it helps your host or host­ess, and more than that, it helps you over­come your own fear of meet­ing peo­ple if you are shy.

Start by ex­tend­ing your hand and say­ing, “Hello, I’m _____ _____, I’m a friend of John’s.” If they don’t re­spond, you might want to add, “Could you share your name?”

Din­ner con­ver­sa­tion is an­other sit­u­a­tion. Per­son­ally, I find it eas­ier when the num­ber of guests is lim­ited. Years ago, there was a prac­tice that was called “turn­ing of the ta­ble”. When the host­ess would turn from the man on her right to the man on the left, the rest of the women at the ta­ble would fol­low. For­tu­nately, this is no longer a stan­dard rit­ual. Dur­ing your din­ner, you may talk to those on both sides and pos­si­bly across the ta­ble, con­vers­ing with all of those near you. If you no­tice some­one who seem to be alone and no one is talk­ing with them, make a point to speak with that per­son for a while. Lis­ten to what those who are near you are talk­ing about and take care not to talk too much about your­self.

If you are won­der­ing what you are go­ing to talk about, there are al­ways the food and wine. Start with those and now you have found your­self talk­ing with strangers.

Avoid talk­ing about very per­sonal top­ics, re­li­gion or pol­i­tics, un­less those around you are with like­minded in­di­vid­u­als. Even then, I don’t rec­om­mend it.

Peo­ple think it is easy for me to go to a party and meet ev­ery­one, as I ap­pear to be an ex­tro­vert. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. If I am do­ing it for a busi­ness client, my head goes into busi­ness mode and I make my­self do it as part of my job and it be­comes easy. If I’m by my­self where I don’t know any­one, it is much more of a chal­lenge and I start out with baby steps ev­ery time. It does get bet­ter as the night goes on. Know­ing th­ese tech­niques has helped me and I hope they can help you.

I’m al­ways happy to hear any thoughts and sug­ges­tions you might have. Email me at luxe­beat­

Chap­ter 1

Dolores Simp­son was a woman with a past. Now, de­pend­ing on your age and where you’re from, you might in­ter­pret that in a num­ber of ways. Let me as­sure you, how­ever, that in the southern part of the United States of Amer­ica, in a cer­tain era, this could mean only one thing: man trou­ble.

This af­flic­tion spares few women. Even maiden ladies and great aun­ties—the ones who smile and nod on the porch, con­tent­edly snap­pin’ peas—have sto­ries of youth­ful tur­moil and shat­tered dreams.

Dolores Simp­son, un­for­tu­nately, had what my mama used to call se­ri­ous man trou­ble. Af­ter lead­ing a ques­tion­able life in Tampa, Dolores came back home one sum­mer day in 1939 with all her worldly goods in a satchel un­der one arm and a brand­new baby boy in the other.

Yes, in­deed. Se­ri­ous man trou­ble.

Home, for Dolores, was one hun­dred and twenty miles south of Tampa in God’s for­got­ten par­adise, Col­lier County, which is bor­dered by the Gulf of Mex­ico on one side and the edge of the Great Ever­glades Swamp on the other. In those days, Ra­dio Ha­vana in Cuba was the only sta­tion that could be heard on the wire­less and al­li­ga­tors out­num­bered peo­ple by at least ten thou­sand to one.

Dolores’s des­ti­na­tion was an aban­doned fish­ing shack that once be­longed to her grand­fa­ther. The shack sat on stilts on a tidal river which was so wild and for­bid­ding that no one with an ounce of sense would try to live there. Still, it was all Dolores knew. She had failed at city life. She had failed at pretty much ev­ery­thing. The river was a place where she could pro­tect her se­crets and nurse her frus­tra­tion with the world.

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