Converse with Class, and How NOT to Converse
missy manners on The Art of Conversation. Seek “Conversation topics” in a Miss Manners Advice style and the importance of manners in conversation. Based on a book on manners, Emily Post’s Etiquette
This page is a continuation of Emily Post Manners on the art of conversation. Remember to see the message beyond the blunder. Sometimes all we need is to employ a bit of grace towards the blunderer. Just like how we would like the grace extended to us.
Now let’s take a look at…
Guilty as charged. I’m sure all of us have made these mistakes from one time to another. I also wrote it from experience, from the receiving end. Shudder, I hope I’ll never have to answer these questions again.
1. “What happened to your complexion?”
2. “Are you really getting a divorce?”
3. “Why are not married?” or “Why don’t you have a boyfriend?”
4. “Are you seeing anyone special?” (Unless you are her close friend, never ask).
5. “What’s the matter with your baby?”
6. “Are you tired? You look tired.” (Sigh, don’t we all hate to get this comment.)
7. “Did you get cosmetic surgery?”
8. “I can’t believe you dated her!”
9. “How old are you?” (which we can respond, “old enough”. If they insist, say “oh it is obvious that I don’t wish to disclose and I’m sure its not important.”
10. “What is your profit margin?”
11. “How much do you make? Earn?”
12. “Where do you source your products from?”
13.”What is your secret recipe?” (especially if he/she owns a restaurant.)
I’m sure we are all familiar with these conversational blunderers.
- The Bragger
- The One Who Uses “Oh it is tres chic!”
- Conversational Monopolies, Story Snatchers and Bores
- Correctors, Patronizers and Condescenders
- The Argumentative Type
- The One Who Insults
- The One Who Slangs
- The One Who Interrupts
- The Name Droppers
- The One Who Interrupts
- The Unfair Conversational Exchanger
- The Snoop
- Wandering Eye
- The One Who Asks Too Many Questions
A good conversationalist does not go on about how expensive her handbag is, what a wonderful job she did, how talented her daughter is.
Nor is using big words that no one understands to try to sound sophisticated.
Other subtle ways to bragging:
And I’ve seen it happen ever since social mediums such as Facebook, twitter and blogs came about.
My Missy Manners examples:
“Thank you to Singapore Airlines for bumping me up to first class!”
“In an upscale restaurant in
“I’m such a foodie, I dine at
Well it’s their social medium, so all you can do is laugh at their bragging intentions.
When held captive of a braggart, comment politely and redirect the conversation. If he has a fabulous story to tell you about himself yet again, excuse yourself unless you are thoroughly enjoying hearing them.
“Oh it is tres chic!”
Ahh…you’re in the midst of a pretentious girl who wants you to believe she is sophisticated.
Sprinkling your conversation with phrases from another language is pretentious, unless its a language you speak all the time, or there is no parallel.
When it happens to you, simply ignore it.
My Missy Manners example: Oh this definitely happened to me!
Conversational Monopolies, Story Snatchers & Bores
It’s good to self check and listen to yourself talk.
How to spot one:
Monopolizing the conversation, never giving a chance to agree or disagree, insisting they are right, story snatcher, changing the topic from you to them simply because they have a similar story, those who keep dwelling on their problems.
Definition of a bore” one who talks about himself when you want to talk about yourself” – Emily Post Etiquette.
When someone repeats a story, a kind way to let him know is saying, “Oh yes, I remember you telling me.”
Correctors, Patronizers and Condescenders
My Missy Manners example: My mother told me this story once of a lady who attempted to correct her pronunciation in front of a group of ladies at church. She went, “now, repeat after me.”
She had no business of doing that. Never correct someone unless she/he is your spouse or child or it is your name. Just use the right word in your sentence and hope they notice.
Some people just want to feel better than everybody else or they have a secret agenda of being jealous of you which explains such patronizing behaviour.
Try not to give advice if not solicited. It’s hard not to be patronizing when giving advice,
There is not much you can do when being patronized or appearing defensive and angry but you can say, “Well I appreciate you trying to educate and simplify this for me, but I’m very familiar with ___” and move the conversation on calmly.
The Argumentative Type
Those who are set on an opposing view and insist on being right. There is no point in arguing with people who have little EQ. Simply say, “you may be right even though I see things differently, who knows really?”
My Missy Manners example: I once told someone that I can’t take horror movies and she made a derogatory remark in a form of a joke and in front of everyone, “Oh you better stick to the Legally Blonde types.” Grrr.
What should I have done? I stared at her for a while, then managed a grim smile and changed the topic.
Unless you are extremely close friends with someone, it’s poor manners to insult someone even if it is in a form of a joke. If the joke went on, or becomes too much to ‘let it go’, tell the speaker frankly that you find her remarks objectionable. Either walk away or change the subject.
Make an effort to speak properly and avoid slangs. It is distracting. The excessive use of “hmmm”, “like…”, “you know”, “you know what I mean?”, “really”, “is it?” is not appreciated.
My Missy Manners example: I once had an American lecturer teach me at university who punctuated “you knows” each and every lessons. It was highly annoying and my friends and I amused ourselves counting the number of “you know”s. We counted 51 in one hour. That’s one almost every minute!
Only interrupt if it is an emergency.
If interrupted, listen politely for a few seconds and then finish your sentence.
Don’t finish the sentence of someone unless they appear struggling to.
The Name Droppers
Most name droppers try too hard to impress others and want people to feel they are important and well connected.
It’s all too obvious really.
It’s best to act unimpressed.
After listening to a name-dropper talk and realizing how insecure she sounds bragging about her association with her acquaintance, you might end up feeling disgust. When you do, remind yourself that you will never take advantage of famous or important people you know by using their names in conversation.
The Unfair Conversational Exchanger
If you want to exchange information, you better be willing to spill the beans on your end of the deal.
Never whisper in the presence of someone or cup your hands to tell an information of someone. Or speak in a foreign language.
That is extremely rude.
How do you answer personal questions about the cost of a gift, renovations, a dress?
We are under no obligation to disclose that information and there is no polite way of saying, “None of your business”. As flimsy an excuse as it sounds, “I don’t know or I don’t remember what it costs”.
Inquires about money matters are usually in poor taste no matter how politely the question is being directed in.
Another famously snoopy question that seems to be “accepted” everywhere is “What do you do?”
Respond: “Oh I’ll rather not talk about that! It’s the weekend! No talking about work!”
Never let your eyes wander around the room when someone is talking to you because it indicates a lack of interest and its distracting, not to mention, extremely rude.
The One Who Asks Too Many Questions
You get an idea that you are asking too many questions when you are given a reply of mono-answers.
Other styles of questions are direct questions, “Is his family rich?”, “Is she from a rich family?”, “How much did you pay for your wedding dinner?”, “How much does that cost?” (like a million things inquired).
Not to mention all those questions are inappropriate.
My Missy Manners example: My gosh, I experienced this too many times to count. I absolutely feel uncomfortable.
You’ll know its not a real conversation is when it sounds like a Question and Answer session.
Missy Manners, Emily Post
My Favourite Conversational Reminders
I like to read this page over again because we are not all perfect. A good reminder to refresh on especially before going to a party!
You might also be interested in:
- Emily Post Manners on the Art of Conversation
- Elegant Entertaining
- Rules of Etiquette – A Lady’s Etiquette
- Manners Today – A List Of Good Manners
Go back to Emily Post Manners – Art of Conversation.
Tags: emily post manners, miss manners advice, missy manners, ms manners, miss manners column, mrs manners, book on manners, online manners, importance of good manners
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