3 Types of Guests to Gracefully Navigate--'Tis the Season for Houseguests and Parties!
By MissHostess on November 10, 2012
Errr… you did not just say that. How to gracefully navigate the not so graceful debates, commentaries, attitudes and opinions of your guests.
The Holidays are coming! Spread the fresh linens, spray the room freshener, and brush up on the grace!
1. The Comment Bomber
We’ve all been there before. You’re in a room full of people when it happens: That person begins to talk, and it starts out all fine and dandy, you tilt your head in interest, coffee cup gently in hand, thinking of how great of a luncheon you had just hosted, and confident that everyone thinks the same. I did damn good. Suddenly, you catch a tone, a word, or a phrase that takes things for a turn, something that would make Rush Limbaugh blush. Oh no, you think, I hope nobody is listening. I hope there are no naturally adversarial people in this room wanting to challenge this person. And then the comment is done, it’s finished, it’s part of history, and there’s no turning back. You scan your periphery trying to catch the glances of others. What do you do now? As a host, do you let things take their natural course? Do you let this person take the beating they deserve? Do you ask the person to leave?
2. The Downer
Meet Debbie Downer. How is she? Doing well but not well at the same time. Have a hoppin’ conversation? It’s not so good anymore because Debbie is there to squash it. Having a jovial time? Not since Debbie just dropped the saddest story of all time! Proud because others are raving over your new stylish curtains? Evacuate the building because Debbie just pointed out that those curtains are highly flammable and will probably burn your house down! Before you throw in the towel and get down to Debbie’s style, you CAN do something to turn around the mood.
3. The Convo Hog
This person’s story is going to end …..Now…. ok… NOW. Wait, she took a tangent into a slightly related story, ok I’ll give her that, bless her heart she’s so lively and loves sharing stories! Oooh I wonder where this juicy story is going….
One hour later……
You find yourself in the kitchen fetching some obscure object because you just needed an excuse to get away from the conversation hog. Yah, that’s right, shes the conversation hog, not sweet, not lively anymore. You wipe the salt and lime residue from your lips as you put away the tequila, take a deep breath, and walk into the fire again.
You may feel powerless in these situations, but you are certainly not without recourse. While you cannot assume responsibility for anyone’s actions, in your own home or not, you can help to mediate, or steer the direction of the situation.
In the case of the person that has just stirred up controversy, you will need to remain neutral, and attempt to change the topic in a tactful way. Something such as, “Oh my god, haha well anyways….(then bring up another topic). Hopefully others will latch on to your new topic. However, if this person has very obviously, personally offended another person who is also in your home, you will need to privately talk to this person and explain that their comment has hurt the other guest, so they can apologize and stay, apologize and leave, or just leave.
As a hostess, your job is to ensure that everyone feels comfortable and at home.
If this is at risk, in the aim of preserving the peaceful environment you have created, going as far as asking the person to nicely leave may be the only option you have. Try not to gossip about the person that has just left, but instead just inform others, if they ask, that this person has just left and that you are sad that the situation happened.
Debbie Downers are a downer aren’t they? Not to delve deep into the psyche of this kind of person, Debbie Downers usually have some deeper, underlying issue that they are trying to resolve inside them; whether it be insecurity or anxiety, or a combination of both, just know that you cannot and should not take their behavior personally. They are not about you! So, how to deal with this situation?
Rule number one: do not indulge in this person’s downer-ness!
Do not engage, do not ask him or her to specify, or to ask what they mean by that. By doing so, you are in a weird way reinforcing their behavior. Your best option is to let the person say what they want to say, but to not engage in it further, do not even address it, just keep on going with your own train of thought—you are not ignoring this person, because that would be rude—instead you are just skimming across what they say. Does that make sense? Odds are that you are not the only one that has noticed this person’s downer tendencies, so others will surely notice and appreciate your efforts, and will instead latch on to your own positive and non-downy outlook. Should I mention that this situation is VERY different from someone truly having a bad day? It is important to recognize the difference! Usually a bad day or bad mood is different from someone’s usual behavior. It also never hurts to ask, “Hey, is everything alright”, if you feel comfortable doing so.
Conversation hoggers like attention. They strive on being the only ones talking in a room. In fact, this is truly how they have a good time. Hoggers do not usually care what others have to say, because you know what, that would be boring! Pay attention to a hogger when someone else is talking and you’ll find that they’re not paying attention at all. They are most likely thinking of what they’ll say next, and it usually never acknowledges what you or someone else has said. How do you steer away from this besides just cutting this person off, or ignoring them all together? As a hostess, you are in charge of the mood and wellbeing of others, and you need to take action!
Your plan of action is, as soon as the hogger has steered his or her glare away from yours, look to the person next to you, and attempt to start a conversation.
Your voice will be a little quieter than the person talking. For example, you might say something like, ‘ooh I like your ring, where’d you get it?” Or, if you’re the host, you can say, “Hey I notice your drink is empty, what would you like to drink? We can go to the bar together and I can make you something?!” In these cases you’re attempting to split off the group, like little dividing cells, until others do the same, and the hogger loses its real power: an audience.