Poll 10: Conversation mistakes – How do you handle a dinner conversation that starts to get out of line?

by Daniel Post Senning on November 23, 2009

As people gather for the holidays sometimesideas differ about what is appropriate dinner conversation.  Tell us how you prefer to handle this type of situation.  Feel free to share related stories and opinions in the comments.

N.T.T. (not table talk): How do you handle a boorish relative’s inappropriate table conversation?

Engage the offender, try to steer the discussion into safer territory. (73%, 254 Votes)

Ignore them, it has to stop eventually. (10%, 36 Votes)

Confront them, ask point blank for certain topics to be left for a different time and place. (10%, 35 Votes)

Interupt quickly, appologize to everyone and change the subject.(7%, 23 Votes)

    Total Voters: 348

    Please feel free to expand on this poll in the comments section below.

    { 3 comments… read them below or add one }

    Jay Remer November 23, 2009 at 11:38 am

    As your voters indicate, the third choice is really the only one which follows the essential cardinal rule of etiquette – do not offend or embarrass anyone publicly. This is a great question for your blog. It is a tough one and really is most effectively handled on a case by case basis, keeping in mind of course respect for everyone involved.

    Reply

    Allison November 23, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    I do not believe by confronting someone you are automatically offending or embarrassing them. Some people just need to be told directly that what they are doing or saying is inappropoiate, otherwise they don’t get it when you sugar coat it.

    Reply

    Gloria July 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I believe that if it is a Holiday gathering, and not just, let’s say, an informal barbeque, I believe that the “boorish” person should NOT be confronted. People are always on edge during the holidays and you wouldn’t want to start a big confrontation at a holiday gathering. This will make people feel MORE uncomfortable than the boorish person is making them. I feel that it would be appropriate to wait for the offending person to take a breath, THEN interrupt quickly, loudly and say, “Oh, I hate to interrupt, I apologize, but I don’t want to forget to say this!” This way, everyone will be relieved and the offending person won’t be insulted because you HAVE apologized for interrupting, plus gave the reason that you interrupted because you didn’t want to forget…

    Reply

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