By: Maralee McKee, Manners Mentor
Whether you have ten parties on your calendar or just one or two, Christmas is in full swing, and now’s the time you’re meeting and mingling with new people: friends of family members, friends of friends at social gatherings, and people important to your career success and the company, product, or organization you represent at work-related soirees.
Last week our blog post focused on 5 Things NOT to say at a Christmas Party, or Any Party.
Now that we know how to avoid stepping out on the wrong foot, let’s find out the best way to start conversations that leave others with a great opinion of you, keep the door open for future conversations, and help you exchange any conversation self-doubt (which is oh so common) for self-confidence in your ability to be at ease while imparting the gift of putting those you’re talking with at ease, too.
Me Too! Moments
Feeling at ease is the one BEST way to connect with others — feeling as if the other person has things in common with you despite any differences in age, gender, race, social-economic status, or anything else.
When you’re having a conversation with someone and the two of you find yourselves saying “Me too!”, you know you’re hitting home runs straight to that person’s heart.
The ability to do that (which is easily learned) will win you more friends and admirers than just about anything else you do.
“You watch that TV show every week?”
Or “You have two boys?”
Or “You moved to Wichita earlier this year?”
Want to make a positive, lasting impression, enjoy a great conversation, and make new friends? Search out as many “Me too!” moments as you can, and you’re sure to succeed!
The 5 Manners of Christmas Party Conversations
Here are five great ways to start conversations that will help you find your way to “Me too!” moments!
1. How do you know the host(s)? I know, I know, almost everyone knows this one, but I had to include it. And I listed it first because it’s just naturally the best way to get the conversation started.
Why? Because it’s the one thing that you already know you have in common: you both know the host(s). It’s a “Me too!” moment wrapped up with a bow and placed in your hands.
It also opens the door to 100 other conversation topics. If they went to high school or college together, you can ask about school. If they attend the same church, you can find out about church. If they work at the same company, you can inquire about work. If their daughters take dance class together, you can ask to hear all about dance class and their daughters. See! Easy peasy. I love this one!
2. Where are you from originally? People are almost always happy to talk about their hometown. Don’t mention that they sound like they have an accent — Southern, Boston, Minnesota, British — because it draws attention to a difference the two of you have. Differences are fine in already-developed friendships, but not in first meetings. Remember, we’re looking for things in common. Now, you can talk about anyone you know that’s also from the same place or nearby. “My sister-in-law is also from a suburb of Chicago!” or “You’re from a small town? Me too!”
Grace Note: Some people ask instead, “What brought you to our city?” The downside of this question is that sometimes the answer isn’t a pleasant one. They could have moved due to divorce, a death in the family, to take care of a seriously ill relative, a job loss, or such. If they’ve moved to your current town for a reason they want to share, nine times out of ten they’ll bring it up in conversation: “…then we moved to Atlanta in 2016 when Devon took her current job.”
3. What’s your favorite _________________? Fill in the blank with something to do with popular culture or something equally easy. You don’t want someone to feel embarrassed if they don’t have a ready answer. So instead of “Who’s your favorite Time Magazine person of the year of the last decade?”, make it more along the lines of “What’s your favorite TV show currently streaming?” Or “What’s your favorite Christmas movie?”
4. Do you have any special holiday traditions? This is better than asking about their holiday plans, because while one person might be flying off to Barbados the day after Christmas for a week-long vacation, the other person might be right back to work the next day. However, almost everyone has something they do each holiday season. It might be baking cookies, reading stories each night by the Christmas tree, driving through local neighborhoods to enjoy the Christmas lights, building a gingerbread house, hosting a New Year’s Eve get-together, or volunteering to help those less fortunate. It’s in talking about our traditions that you’re more likely to touch on a “Me too” moment.
5. What’s your best Christmas memory? Asking the question like this allows people to include something that may have happened just last year. And this way, even if they had a difficult childhood, or their twenties were spent in poverty, or they’ve suffered loss at Christmas, or anything else, they can focus on what stands out as a favorite memory.
Maybe it was giving to someone in need. Maybe it was a gift given by a grandparent. Maybe it was something they did as a family when they were young before their parents divorced. And when you get people to recall good memories, they transfer that good feeling onto their impression of you!
Words shape lives. Through them we make ourselves known to others. The words we choose to say shape (over time) our hearts, minds, values, and character. When we use the Gold Standard we talked about in last week’s post as our everyday standard, we’ll find ourselves changing — not into something different than we are, but into who we were always meant to be. You’ll become you at your best! And as you do, all those who come into contact with you will be better for it, too.
Until next week, I pray you experience sweet Christmas moments and breathe in every one of them!
Hugs and blessings,
PS: Guess what????
Sales of my book Manners That Matter for Moms increased six-fold last week!!!!
Thank you to everyone who ordered a copy of the book from their favorite book. While the title of the book might be misleading, it’s really 100-plus tips for raising already great kids to become inspiring adults by discovering and using the Gold Standard of parenting and social skills.
It’s unlike any other manners book!
There’s no boring list of dos and don’ts.
It’s fun, best-friend, mom-to-mom sharing of how we get our kids from Point A to Point B in the short amount of time we have before they turn 18 and are off to college.
Those 18 years are going by fast, and as moms we have a lot they need us to share with them about the most important skill they possess: their ability to get along well with, to be viewed favorably by, and to make great impressions on others. (In other words, their manners.)
My book doesn’t set out to try to change our children’s personalities. God gave those to our children, and He likes their personalities! Also, what you’ll be teaching them will become reflections of their TRUE character, not any type of window dressing.
All of it is doable! I show you how!
Join the mom-olution to return to a standard of treating one another well. It will change the trajectory of your family today and your child forever!