By Kathryn Lancioni, Founder and CEO of Presenting Perfection
Most people you know look forward to Thanksgiving. For some people it is the food, for others it is the football and yet for others it is the simple break before the December holidays. But, there is one thing most people don’t look forward it—that’s the Thanksgiving dinner table conversation.
Why is it we dread talking to people we know? It is hard to pinpoint the exact answer. In some cases, it may be we haven’t seen them in a while and in others it may be we don’t know them. But, the reality is most people you dine with on this wonderfully delicious holiday, are people you have met before. And, in many cases, people you have known for a long time.
To make this year’s Turkey Talk a bit easier, here are some tips and tidbits on conversation insights for this year’s festive meal:
Tips for Talking Around the Turkey:
Tip#1: When you first see someone, ask them how they are and what they’ve been up to?
Yes, this is something we all learn in Conversation 101 but the reality is these days most of us forget to do it. A simple hug, kiss on the check or handshake followed by the timeless question, “How are you?” said in a sincere voice will go a long way for ensuring a smooth dinner conversation. How? If you listen carefully when they answer your question, you will have some information to discuss with them at dinner.
Tip#2: Sit next to someone you don’t know that well—IT WILL FORCE YOU TO TALK TO THEM:
I know this sounds like the last thing you want to do but consider this—if you sit next to someone that already knows everything about you (your parents, sibling, grandmother), it is possible you may run out of things to say or be bored. But, if you sit next to someone you don’t know, who knows where the conversation will go!!
Tip #3: Ask everyone what they are thankful for.
A great way to start the Thanksgiving Day meal to ask everyone to share what they are thankful for. The best way to do this is to go around the table and ask everyone to say one or two things they are most thankful for this year. It may take sometime, especially if you have a large group, but it is great way to break the ice, especially with unfamiliar guests.
Tip #4: Talk about things you want to share—don’t bring up things you aren’t comfortable discussing.
At some point during the day, you are probably going to say to yourself, “Why did I bring this up?” To avoid this, just talk about the things you want to discuss. If it is uncomfortable for you, it will be uncomfortable for the person you are speaking with
Tip#5: If you are running out of things to say, ask your conversation partner what they love about Thanksgiving.
Everyone loves something about Thanksgiving — this is a great way to simply and safely take the conversation into a new direction, if you get stuck.
And a Few Tidbits…
Tidbit #1: If you don’t know someone’s name, introduce yourself first.
This will provide a great opportunity for the person to tell you their name. If they don’t give it to you, try to find it out from someone else. It can be really awkward admitting you don’t know the name of the person you had a heart-to-heart with.
Tidbit #2: Avoid politics and sports.
It is best to avoid topics that are controversial.You don’t want to lead the conversation down the wrong path.
Tidbit #3: Be a good listener.
Regardless of how boring the conversation may seem to you, it is important you listen. People can tell when you aren’t really listening to them and it can be really awkward if they figure it out.
Tidbit #4: Use a graceful exit.
Don’t just walk away after having a conversation with someone, let them know how much you have enjoyed speaking with them. We all like to feel appreciated.
Tidbit #5: Keep the smartphones in your pocket or purse.
It is okay to bring your phone out to take some pictures but otherwise put it away. Thanksgiving only happens once a year—look up, smile and enjoy the people around you!