If you feel right at home in the office setting, yet are tenuous and feel uncomfortable in a social gathering, practice these tips:
1. Talk about topics other than business: Include topics the opposite sex can appreciate.
Example: One of my husband’s bosses showed his social savvy when he would graciously ask me about my business, about parts of the country where we had lived, or about general topics such as world events. I appreciated this consideration to include me in the conversations and not just talk about business to my husband.
2. Avoid these subjects: Your health, the cost of things, gossip, off-color jokes, and controversial issues like politics when you don’t know where other people in the group stand.
Example: A friend of mine sat at a dinner with someone who held opposite political viewpoints. Not knowing this, my friend expressed a political opinion. The other person reacted negatively and a heated discussion ruined the dinner.
3. Become proficient at making small talk. Listen intentionally and be interested in what is being discussed. This helps you think of things to say. Asking open ended questions helps — questions that start with “tell me, who, what, when, where or how.” People are flattered when you ask for their insights.
4. Be a good conversationalist. A good conversationalist is cheerful and has a sense of humor. They read to stay informed, listen, ask open-ended questions, are other centered, and do not have “I” trouble! (That means it is NOT all about YOU!) How to carry on an interesting conversation can be learned.