Whether it's a barbecue, a business lunch or a formal dinner, mixing with other guests is a done deal. Etiquette expert Patsy Rowe offers these handy hints:
Have a great ice-breaker. "Where are you from?" is the all-round best. To discover that someone grew up in a small town, or has just returned from a Greek holiday, will pave the way for a whole host of secondary questions.
No-nos. In-house talk, photos of your kids, your worm-breeding hobby and your latest diet are conversational killers. Avoid gossip, details of your medical problems and personal money matters.
Curly questions. If someone asks you an embarrassing question about your age, your income or your marriage(s), smile and ask, "Why do you want to know?"
Don't be a bore. If your fellow guest's interest is waning while you waffle, stop talking about yourself and ask them a question immediately.
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