Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Podcast: Mobile phone etiquette

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How to be a good conversationalist

Dear Ms Manners

Say I'm at a party or a dinner and I happen to be sitting with a group of disparate people, only some of whom I may know. The topic of conversation may just veer to subjects I may not be knowledgeable about – say art or politics. How can one best work around conversations where they don't have much to contribute? How does one manage to stay 'included' and conduct one's self stylishly without revealing any lack of know-how or making any faux pas?

- Sonali Pandya

Dear Sonali,

I know what you mean; nobody would like to get labeled as a dim-wit. I cannot but stress enough the importance of communication whether it is verbal or non verbal.

Speech is an important form of communication. Each time you open your mouth, you reveal something about yourself to someone else not just in what you say, but how you say it! A good conversationalist is not one who chatters endlessly or one who pretends to know it all either. Developing effective communication skills would therefore be of primary importance to get you through sticky moments. Here are a few tips.

First and foremost, your body language should convey confidence. Don’t slouch- Keep your head up, shoulders back and sit up straight and tall.

Look directly at the person who is speaking, with spontaneous and undivided attention; the person who looks happy to see you, who is seemingly eager and enthralled with your conversation is generally good company. Always nod in understanding, even if what is being said is double Dutch to you.

Listen intently without interrupting when a person is speaking, storing all information in the far recesses of your mind for future use. ‘Remember that the sympathetic (not apathetic) listener is the delight of delights.’

Don’t pretend to know more than you do. If you do, but don’t appear to have any understanding or further knowledge of the subject, you will you look extremely foolish. ‘Only the very small mind hesitates to say “I don’t know.”

Besides, when in doubt, silence is golden; chattering inanely will merely reveal a shallow mind.
If ignorant about the current topic of conversation, wait for a lull in the conversation or a pregnant pause and subtly steer the conversation to areas of interest to you.

Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is never bliss. Though you are not expected to be a walking encyclopedia, knowledge is wealth! Read voraciously, especially about art, literature, culture and music. Brush up on current events.

Introduce your self to the unknown and converse with the person on either side you. Skillfully manipulate the conversation towards mutually interesting topics. Test a few, until you hit on one which gets you an animated/ eager response. Asking a new acquaintance a work related question is a good ‘ice breaker.’ In India, cricket is always a sure winner.

Speak softly, clearly and sincerely. Make your self heard without shouting, interrupting or talking over others. Speak your mind and convey your feelings, without being hurtful of another’s feelings

Society is meant to be a pleasant place; being confrontational or aggressive with people does not make for pleasant company. Politics and religion are absolutely taboo topics. Moreover, it is terribly rude to ask personal questions or make personal comments. Those that keep the conversation impersonal, light and happy are normally popular company.

Hogging the conversation, whining or bragging will earn you the tag of a ‘pest’ or a ‘bore’. Besides preaching should only be done from the pulpit.

Relax, tension, resulting from the feeling of ineptitude or inadequacy, can cause a mental block, or even provoke useless chatter. It would be worth remembering that those waxing eloquent may not be an Einstein clone either.

The first, last and only rule really is to stop and think before you speak!. If you “stop” you can’t chatter or expound or flounder ceaselessly, and if you think, you will make conversation that is interesting to your company rather than long-suffering.

I rest my case with this anecdote I heard in passing --- An elderly man, in an effort to be communicable, once told a new acquaintance, “Twenty years ago you were the prettiest woman in town!” How is that for tact!?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Grooming & Etiquette Workshop: Jan 11-13

Image Inc is conducting a Grooming & Etiquette workshop by image consultant Ms Rukshana Eisa on January 11, 12 & 13, 2006.

10.30 am to 2.30pm at Waterfield Rd,Bandra (W), Mumbai 400050.

The workshop will teach skills that will influence your success and build an image that will enhance your confidence and improve your business and social etiquette.

For details call Maria on 2492 1010 or email rukshana.imageinc@gmail.com

How to gracefully end a relationship

Dear Ms Manners

How does one gracefully move out of someone’s life when a relationship ends? I think this stage, more than any other, is a true test of one’s dignity and tact. It could be the end of a friendship, a marriage or a couple breaking up. But being bitter, malicious or nasty serves no purpose. How soon can one ask for their personal possessions to be returned, and return their ex’s stuff too? Can you ask for things to be returned to you? Of course, in a marriage there’s an entire settlement to think of, but in a relationship should expensive gifts exchanged be sent back. Things are particularly painful when the girl or guy in question has developed a relationship with their ex-best friend or partner’s family. What’s the best way to behave if one bumps into them somewhere, and does one need to express anything when, say, sending back something personal or pricy they’ve gifted or given you.
-Tania Somani

Dear Tania,

That breaking up is hard to do is the understatement of the year! Ending a relationship is among the most stressful things a person has to undergo not to mention the most painful! Your life sometimes virtually turns upside down. But keep your chin up and your dignity intact no matter how dismal the situation may appear to be.

Different people seem to handle this situation in different ways. But depending on your inner strength, there are two ways to cope with it. A person can make a clean break, leave the past behind, close the chapter to begin the healing process, and get on with life. Such persons wake up one day feeling that that all is right with the world again. While for the others it takes time, patience and hours of fluctuating emotions.

Letting go is even harder. But you must move on and with your head high. I have a list of 11 commandants for the broken hearted that will prevent the most common mistakes

Have a good cry! – Releasing pent up emotions is instant therapy and not gender specific. Let it all the pain, bitterness and anger out then let it go. When emotionally spent relief sets in.
The ego takes a drubbing-Emotionally at an all time low and vulnerable, one generally experiences an acute feeling of inadequacy and incompetence not to mention unattractiveness. I dislike seeing people wallow in self-pity.

Go out and pamper your self. Buy a new dress, have a flattering new haircut, get a make over. In short make sure one feels good about oneself.

Writing can be extremely therapeutic. Pour your heart out in a letter or an email. Lay bare your suppressed emotions and inner most feelings, but do not post or hit the send button until you have had the time to do a rethink. Things always look different in retrospect.

Suddenly time will be in abundance for the newly single. The evening and weekends are the hardest to cope with Quit sitting around moping though, and feeling sorry for oneself.

Your not the only one this has happened to neither will you be the last. The time void created by the ex will need to be filled. Peruse interests that had been put on hold in favour of the relationship. Join a club, or a book club, take a class or a volunteer group.

Family and friends - Support Group- Family and friends are invaluable at this time. The family will stand by you and support you with out saying “I told you so” or being judgmental. Make new friends and rekindle old relationships but keep them all platonic

Get away for a while- Taking a holiday is very therapeutic. Go to some exotic holiday resort.
This has a two fold benefit. It signals that one is not pining for the ex and that is a major ego booster while diverting attention from the offending ex.

At the same time, mending a broken heart needs one to make a few steadfast vows as well.

Never to call the ex no matter what urgent or pressing news has to be imparted only by you.

Reach for the phone when the desperate urge is experienced but call a friend instead.

Avoid frequenting places the ex frequents in the faint hope of meeting. This is merely self destructive.

Never make hasty decisions. Judgments are not as astute at times like this.

Do not take his/her calls or return phone calls. This will just prolong the agony.

It is futile to look for hopeful signs of a patch up or visit a fortune teller.

Accept the break up as permanent unless proven otherwise by concrete actions and personal apologies

Never wash dirty linen in public and do not be a whiney, cranky person totally preoccupied with the present situation. This is the surest and quickest way to loose valuable friends.

My school of thought is that gifts are given with a certain sentiment at the time and it is rude and hurtful to ask for them to be returned or to even return them, Personal effects(photographs and clothes) however, can be returned immediately. If it is too painful for one to do so personally, ask a friend to do the needful.

Greet the ex’s family or friends with the same warmth and feeling as always. They will endearingly recognize the maturity and decency of the action. Besides they are, after all, in no way to be blamed for the situation.

Finally if one bumps into the offending ex, take a deep breath, look unperturbed, greet and move on. Do not linger ever.

Last but not the least, while time is a great healer, there are many other fish in the sea!!!