Conversation Etiquette

by Claire Valenty on July 24, 2010

in Business & Office Etiquette, Everyday Etiquette

everyday conversation etiquette

Want to be thought of as a great conversationalist?  Aren’t sure how to get that title?  We’ve got some easy steps for you in our article on Conversation Etiquette!

onversation etiquette is essential.  There is nothing worse than trying to talk to someone who is completely clueless when it comes to conversation etiquette.  It can feel as if you are not communicating with each other at all, and isn’t communication the point?   Take care of your part of the conversation by brushing up on your conversation etiquette.

1)      The #1 rule in conversation etiquette is: don’t interrupt.  Don’t think that what you have to say is so much more important or correct.  It’s the other person’s turn to talk and what they have to say is just as important (although, probably not as correct as you, right?).  Wait calmly until they have finished what they want to say; then you can talk.  And don’t sit there with a look on your face while you’re waiting that clearly implies you don’t give two cents about what they’re saying and you just want them to shut their yap so you can say your piece.

2)      Use the right amount of eye contact.  Maintaining the appropriate amount of eye contact when having a conversation shows you are interested.  However, don’t confuse this for thinking an outright staring competition is in order.  That’s uncomfortable and a little creepy for the other person.

3)      If you want to earn bonus conversation etiquette points with your friends or acquaintances, if there is a group conversation going on that you can tell someone wants to join in, but, they aren’t finding the appropriate moment, ask them a direct question.  The person will be thankful you want to hear their opinion!

4)      Conversation etiquette dictates that everyone has opinions; agree to disagree.  It’s natural.

5)      If someone has an idea, even if you feel the need to play devil’s advocate, conversation etiquette means you don’t laugh in their face.  If you honestly believe it’s a horrible idea, nicely point out issues with the person’s idea and help them come up with solutions.  You don’t like it when people say your ideas are dumb; don’t do it to someone else.

6)      Those with excellent conversation etiquette don’t monopolize the conversation.  If the other person doesn’t have much to say, ask them questions to either draw them out of their shell or turn the conversation topic into something they have more interest in.

7)      If you are with a group of people that are discussing something you know nothing about, that doesn’t mean you have to fake your way through the conversation or meekly step out; it is perfectly acceptable conversation etiquette to show your interest in learning more by asking questions.

8)      Respect personal space.  Don’t be a close talker.  If you don’t know what that is, watch the Seinfeld episode.  Yes, it is a real problem and yes, if you’re branded as one of those, word spreads fast.

At the end of the day, if you are polite, engaged, ask questions and respect everyone’s space, even if you don’t spout off Shakespeare quotes and discuss technological breakthroughs, everyone will still be impressed at what a great conversationalist you are thanks to your superb conversation etiquette!

Photo: stock.xchng/Andrew C.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

DaveR May 3, 2012 at 1:23 am

If a conversation involves two people, you should talk only half the time. If three, your part is 1/3 of the conversation. And so on.

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