Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Successful Simple Icebreakers
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Q. I freeze at the thought of having to attend holiday parties, but I know it is good for me to get out and about. I’m excruciatingly shy. To loosen up and become friendly I need a couple of glasses of wine. At least two. Can you give me some tips on how I can be less shy and socialize more easily at a party without having to get high first in order to make conversation? –AW, East Greenwich, RI
A. Ahead of time, before you know you’re going to be socializing, whether you’ll be meeting people you don’t know or getting to know an acquaintance better, watch the Amy Cuddy ‘Power Pose’ TED talk to see how to improve your body language to be more approachable. It will prepare you to enter any social situation with aplomb.
Remember in a social situation such as a holiday party, you want to think of yourself as the hunter not the prey. You are the person doing the shopping, you’re not the shopee; you’re looking to meet people interesting to know, which means you’ll be asking a lot of questions.
- Start by saying something positive to a person of interest about the party, host, music, or food. Then introduce yourself: This is cool space for a party. By the way, I’m Zoe Brown. As you offer to shake his hand while he introduces himself as Earl Grey. Repeating his name and yours helps you both learn the other's name.
- Carry on with inquisitive open-ended questions: Is Earl Grey your name for real or are you putting me on? Earl Grey is my favorite tea. How did you come to be named after a tea?
- It is far easier for a person to respond when you’ve offered parallel information that Earl Grey is your favorite tea flavor and then ask how they came to be named Earl Grey. Were you born in India? I’m going to India next Fall. His answer gets him talking about his world. This exchange, of course, isn't a real one, but it should give you an idea of how to keep a conversation going.
- Everyone wants to be appreciated. So, ask a favor: Will you walk with me to the bar to get a drink? (Or, Let’s find something to eat in the other room?) The favor draws him into spending more time with you.
- Be curious and ask more questions: How do you know our host, Tom? His answer may provide a conversational opening.
- If not, make a broad statement: This California wine is quite excellent. Making such a declaration will encourage him to respond with his opinions about wines.
On the other hand, when bumping into someone you know:
Don’t ever use annoying trite cliches:
- You look great for your age. –Instead simply say: You look great.
- You look tired. –Instead say: What have you been up to?
- You’ve lost weight. –Translated loosely, referencing your body size – even if it is flattering – is a turn-off. Instead say: You look great.
- When is your baby due? --Unless you know for sure that she’s pregnant, don’t assume that because she has gained weight that she is in fact pregnant. Don't even go there.
- Have you found a job yet? –Simply say: What’s going on in your life?
- How is your illness? –Merely ask: How are you doing?
- Are you divorced yet? –Again, don't even go there.
Steer clear of two words: always and never. Because nobody always or never does it all the time. Rather, instead say: I notice you do this often.
What’s not cool to say:
*You always forget my name. –If he always forgets your name, simply introduce yourself to help him learn it.
*You were always too good for him anyway. –Instead say: It's his loss
*You never remember that we’ve met several times before. –Simply introduce yourself again and again until it sticks.
*There is always a reason for everything. –When you know someone close to the person died, simply say: I’m so sorry for your loss.
Stay cool when you’re ‘breaking the ice’ and concentrate on being:
*Optimistic and open-minded
*Curious about the other person
*Interested in learning something new
*Fun to be with
Didi Lorillard researchers all matters of manners and etiquette at Didi's Manners. This is where the best questions appear weekly.
Related Slideshow: 50 Ways to Give in Portland This Holiday Season
Oregon Food Bank
Donate food to needy families in your own area this holiday season via the Oregon Food Bank.
The Food Bank is most in need of the following items:
Foods high in protein such as canned meats (i.e., tuna, chicken, salmon) and canned or dried beans
- Foods high in nutrients, such as canned fruits and vegetables (preferably with reduced sodium and reduced sugar)
Photo via the Oregon Food Bank's Facebook page.
Child Centered Solutions
Child Centered Solutions protects the rights of children during high-conflict family disputes.
Donations can make a tangible impact in the lives of kids going through a divorce, who are vulnerable to feelings of loss and abandonment.
Image via Child Centered Solutions' Twitter page.
Headquartered in Portland, Medical Teams International provides medical care and disaster recovery to those in need all over the world.
Through their Holiday Gift Catalogue you can pick out a specific purchase for your donation, such as emergency medical support, dental care or disaster relief.
Image via Medical Teams International's Facebook page.
Cityteam provides hot meals, safe shelter, showers, clean clothing, recovery programs and other essential care to this city's homeless population. A recovery program is also in place for those men that are on a road of destruction from drugs and alcohol.
Donate today to help fund Cityteam serve more than 18,000 hot meals this holiday season.
Image via Cityteam's Facebook page.
Oregon Humane Society
The Oregon Human Society rescues, heals and adopts more than 11,000 pets each year. We never place a time limit on how long cats, dogs and other pets stay at our shelter.
The Humane Society relies on donations to support their adoption, education, and animal cruelty investigation programs.
Image via the Oregon Humane Society's Facebook page.
Sustainable Northwest restore forests, rivers, and rangelands for healthier habitat and clean air and water.
Donate today to contribute to one of their projects, such as water projects, climate projects and forest projects.
Image via Sustainable Northwest's Facebook page
Friends of the Children
Friends of the Children works to provide children in need with a nurturing and sustained relationship with a professional mentor who teaches positive values and has attainable expectations for each child to become a healthy, productive member of the community.
Spend your time volunteering at one of their upcoming events and help teach positive values to local kids.
Image via Friends of the Children's Facebook page
Founded in 1998, Ethos Inc. provides music lessons, group classes, camps, multicultural performances and workshops to more than 7,000 students across Oregon each year.
Those who would like to pitch in can volunteer their time at Ethos or donate an instrument to the program, along with making financial gifts.
Image via Ethos' Facebook page.
Friends of Trees
Friends of Trees has planted more than half a million trees and native plants since its founding in 1989. They hold events with community volunteers to restore green spaces in the area.
To get involved, plant a tree yourself or make a financial contribution to Friends of Trees.
Image via Friends of Trees' Facebook page
Boy Scouts of America
The Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America operates Boy Scout troops in 18 counties in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington.
Donate your time as a leader at a local troop or visit their website to make a financial gift.
Image via The Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America's Facebook page
Portland Rescue Mission
The Portland Rescue Mission provides services treating addiction, mental trauma and poverty to homeless families around the Portland-metro area.
To help the Rescue mission during this Holiday season, make a financial gift or donate your old and no longer wanted vehicle to their car donation program.
Image via the Portland Rescue Mission's Facebook page
All Hands Raised
Visit their donation page today to help brighten a child's educational future.
Image via the Portland Public School Foundation's Facebook page
SCRAP, or the School and Community Reuse Action Project, is a donation-based creative reuse store and donation center in Southwest Portland.
Right now, SCRAP is in need of thread, sewing needles, pins, blank and used canvas, feathers, marbles and other arts and crafts supplies.
Image via SCRAP's Facebook page
Emergency Food Program
Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon operates the Northeast Emergency Food Program, which provides a three-to-five day supply of nutritious groceries for local families in need.
The Emergency Food Program is in need of volunteers to help deliver and organize more than 12 tons of food each month. They are also in need of donations of canned, packaged and frozen foods.
The Providence Portland Medical Foundation provides medical services and resources for Providence Portland Medical Center.
The Medical Foundation is currently seeking funding for guest housing, cancer research and more.
Image via Providence Portland Medical Center's Facebook page.
Oregon Wild works to protect and restore Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters as an enduring legacy for all Oregonians.
Members who donate to Oregon Wild receive a one-year subscription to Oregon Wild, their conservation newsletter, exclusive invitations to members-only hikes, excursions, and workshops and timely alerts and news about legislation and other actions that threaten the places you love.
Image via Oregon Wild's Facebook page
Portland Youth Builders
Portland Youth Builders offer support to youth age 17-24 whose experiences with poverty, violence, drugs, hunger and loss have interrupted their route to success.
Donations to the Youth Builders help fund school supplies for students, GED testing fees, or textbooks for college students.
Image via Portland Youth Builders' Facebook page
Oregon Zoo Foundation
The Oregon Zoo Foundation works to advance the zoo's mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Since 1997, the foundation has contributed more than $52 million to the Oregon Zoo to enhance efforts in conservation, education and animal welfare.
The Zoo Foundation asks for donations to enhance the zoo's work on behalf of wildlife at home and around the world.
The Center for a Sustainable Today operates the Green Neighborhood Project, which works to restore habitat, enhance ecosystem services, and create vibrant communities in the city of Portland.
Become a member today to support sustainability in Portland.
Image via Sustainable Today's Facebook page
Feral Cat Coalition
The Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon works to improve the welfare and reduce the population of feral and stray cats through spay/neuter programs and education.
Donations are used to fund the spaying and neutering of cats. Volunteers are also needed to help perform the veterinary work, spread the word about the organization and help with office work.
Image via the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon's Facebook page.
Young Musicians & Artist
Since 1965, Young Musicians & Artists has provided residential visual and performing arts residential programs during the summer for high school students.
The program has grown over its five-decade history from one week-long camp to 250 students working with more than 50 volunteers at different camps and workshops in the city.
Image via Young Musicians and Artists' Facebook page.
The Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington works to build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Donate your time as a leader at a local troop or visit their website to make a financial gift.
Image via The Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington's Facebook page
The Hereford House Food Pantry supplies food and social services for Portland families in need.
The Hereford House is currently also seeking funding to provide staffing, furnishings and equipment needed to expand our capacity to include dental van visits, basic health screenings, employment counseling and healthy eating/nutrition classes.
Image via The Hereford House Facebook page
One in four homeless women in Portland identify domestic violence as the reason they became homeless in the first place.
Sponsored by the YWCA, the Yolanda Project aims to divert pressure onPortland's emergency shelter system by working with survivors of domestic violence at risk of becoming homeless to skip a stay in an emergency shelter and obtain safe, stable housing for themselves and their families.
Dreaming Zebra is a nonprofit charity providing support so that children are given an equal opportunity to explore and develop their creativity in the arts.
Donors are needed to sponsor a classroom, establish donation centers in local businesses and host an art or music supply drive.
Church Food Pantry
The Southeast Community Church Food Pantry provides emergency food boxes, clothes, and household items to any and all persons who find themselves in difficulties because their basic needs cannot be met due to economic hardship.
The Food Pantry is in need of canned and packaged foods, fresh produce, clean clothing and bedding and more.
Image via the Southeast Community Church Food Pantry's Facebook page.
Step It Up, Inc.
Step It Up, Inc. works to provide high school students with access to educational career development resources, support, and guidance so they have opportunities to succeed, teaching students to believe in themselves and their abilities.
Donations support resume workshops, career mentors and other programs.
Photo via Step It Up's Facebook page.
Write Around Portland
Write Around Portland offers 10-week creative writing workshops to hospitals, schools, prisons, shelters, senior centers, low-income housing, treatment facilities, health care and social service setting, and publishes anthologies of stories.
Volunteers are needed to host readings and serve as workshop facilitators.
Founded in 1992, JOIN works to support the efforts of homeless individuals and families to transition out of homelessness and into permanent housing.
Donations fund immersion, housing retention and outreach programs, as well as services such as showers, laundry, coffee and shelter from the weather.
Image via JOIN's Facebook page.
Founded in part by the American Heart Foundation and the Clinton Foundation, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation works to tackle childhood obesity.
Donations can help provide healthy recess programs, school lunches and doctor's visits.
Image via Healthier Generation's Facebook page
EcoDistricts works to promote sustainable growth in Portland, Oregon and across the United States.
Your donation supports innovative EcoDistricts programs that help convene and train urban leaders throughout North America to envision and implement urban regeneration projects that are transforming neighborhoods for the better.
Image via EcoDistrict's Facebook page
Climate Trust is a unique environmental conservation organization. They work to accelerate carbon mitigation with the development and purchase of carbon offsets.
Donate today to contribute to one of their innovative projects geared toward reducing carbon emissions.
Image via Climate Trust's Facebook page
Moore Street Food Pantry
The Moore Street Food Pantry is a shopping style food pantry operated by the Salvation Army. It serves 13 zip codes in the Portland-metro area.
Volunteers are needed to help staff the pantry and donations of food items are gladly accepted.
Image via Moore Street Food Pantry's Facebook page
Oregon Reproductive Help
The Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health is dedicated to improving access to comprehensive reproductive health care, such as preventing unintended pregnancy and planning healthy families.
Donations help to advance reproductive rights and advocating for reproductive health equity in all Oregon communities.
Image via The Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health's Facebook page
Chess for Success
More than just a clever name, Chess for Success works to help at-risk youth improve their self-esteem, behavior, and academic performance through developing skills learned in chess.
They are seeking funding for chess clubs, tournaments and more.
Image via Chess for Success Facebook page
Green Empowerment works with local partners around the world to strengthen communities by delivering renewable energy and safe clean water.
Donations will support the implementations of new water and energy projects, the training of local leaders and the development of international networks to guarantee comprehensive access to resources.
Image via Green Empowerment's Facebook page
Sight &Hearing Foundation
Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation works to screen, treat, save, and restore sight and hearing, in partnership with Lions Clubs.
Donations fund surgery, treatments, exams and glasses or hearing aids for those in need.
Image via Oregon Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation's Facebook page
Oregon Dog Rescue
Oregon Dog Rescue is an all-breed, no-kill shelter serving the greater Portland, Oregon area.
Funding helps provide homes for great dogs in Oregon and medical treatment that is urgent and/or necessary to facilitate a successful adoption.
Image via Oregon Dog Rescue's Facebook page
My Voice Music
My Voice Music that engages youth in music and performance in order to promote self-esteem, social skills, and emotional expression.
My Voice needs volunteers to help lead music education programs and accepts donations of gently used musical instruments and equipment.
Image via My Voice Music's Facebook page.
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