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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: How to Make Conversation

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Etiquette questions this week to Didi Lorillard at Didi's Manners focused on how to get out of a nasty conversation and begin again with a friendlier tone.

Q.  How can I make myself a more interesting conversationalist? During this particular pre-election period it is getting harder and harder to express my opinions. It's close to impossible to find common ground with most of my coworkers and fellow golfers. Essentially, they act as though it is open season on expressing their honest opinion with favored regaling stories based -- and debasing my candidate -- on hearsay, knowing full well who I am campaigning for and against. 

Conversations are a tug of war. Don't get me wrong, these are people with whom I usually get along. However, the election is all anyone can talk about. Unbelievably, its only June and I have to deal with these people for the next five months or more. Too often I find I've been bated into a debate.  Anonymous, Watch Hill, RI


A.  What makes you think you, Mr. Anonymous, are of interest to anyone? Why are you stuck in a workplace and social sphere where your political beliefs aren't, at the very least, respected? Let alone recognized? What are you passionate about? Do you explore new places, foods, ideas, art, music, cultures? Take charge of the conversation, if you don't like the debate. Change the dialogue. Segue the questioning into a different topic that rouses your passion.

  • Your adversaries don't seem to be shy about riding on a band wagon. Don't you have a quirk or two of your own you could bring up? "Are they ever going to fix the erosion to the fifth hole on your local golf course?"  

More than anything, leave your ego out of the conversation and focus on being curious about their work, family, interests (aside from politics), what they're reading now, which sports team they're rooting for. What are their likes and dislikes? 

Should worse really come to worst, simply say, "Let's talk about something else." Or, "Do you mind if we change the topic?" 

Being interesting can be about introducing someone to new things and people. Bring another person into the conversation by introducing them, "Joe, you know Alex Brown, don't you? Alex, come over here and meet Joe Baker. He's the new CEO over at _____ ."

Interesting people are memorably charismatic. 

  • They are good storytellers and listeners because they lead lives filled with spontaneous curiosity. 
  • Being curious makes you naturally happy and easier to be with.  

Find your allure and you'll gain new respect from your networks of coworkers, clients, friends, and golfing partners.

  • At the end of the day, it's about more than having interests, it's about truly caring about them.
  • Be empathetic by being a good listener.


Didi Lorillard researches etiquette at Newport Manners.


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