Don’t Sweat the Small Talk at the Holiday Parties: A Guide of Challenging Talkers

by | Jan 7, 2010

It’s that time of year again: office parties, networking get-togethers, and neighborhood open houses to celebrate the holidays. You told yourself last year that you wouldn’t get stuck talking to the guy who kept inching towards you as you so casually backed away. You know you’re not going to get trapped by the woman who lets the conversation die and relies on you to perk it back up. You know what you need to do to keep the fun happening, so here are a few strategies to identify challenging talkers. Now you’ll know what these folks look like when you walk in through the door of your next fete:

The Quiet Talker
You can’t hear this person and as you strain and strain to listen to what they have to say, you still can’t hear them! “Ask the person to speak up,” says lifecoach and columnist Harriette Cole. “It would be ruder to stand and presumably talk to someone who expects a response from you. It’s far kinder to let them know you can’t understand them.”

The Non-Stop Talker
This person just won’t stop talking and you feel trapped. But don’t fear, there’s always the excuse of needing to freshen your glass of wine or needing to visit the restroom. Don’t let this person suck another minute out of your life; get away as soon as you figure out what kind of talker this person is!

The Inappropriate Talker
This person doesn’t have a filter or they rage about the current political climate or they use racial slurs. You don’t want to make them angry, so this is the line you can be used on them: “I’m sorry, but this topic is making me uncomfortable.” By doing so you stand your ground, but you do so gracefully.

The Interrupter
When you’re in a group of about three to four other people, this person jabs their way in to finish your story or insert their own ideas. You may have to let this one go if you don’t know the person well, but if you and this person have more contact then you might want to say, “Just a moment, I need to finish my thought here.” They should take the hint.

The No Talker
This is the person who answers your questions with one word answers and just stares at you when the conversation folds. Get out of this person’s space by saying, “It’s been great talking to you,” and then let your feet do the walking.

Do you see yourself in any of these challenging talkers? If so, take a moment and reflect on times when your conversation partners seemed uncomfortable. If you can’t recall anything-good! But it’s still an excellent idea to always ask your social partner open-ended questions. You can also ask these conversation starters:
“What’s been going on at work?” or “How’s the family?”

Remember to put your strongest foot forward at your next social gathering and wear the best accessories you own: your attitude and your smile!

Source: Dallas Morning News

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