Etiquette: Mastering the art of socialising

If you are an introvert like me then you probably resent the awkwardness that comes with social gatherings. Conversations with strangers and the confusing need to mingle never comes easy. 

However, the complex art of socialising and networking is not only tough for introverted people, but extroverts as well. Knowing what to do or when to say what at the right time is not a given. 

 

This is why it is important to master etiquette with social gatherings.

 

Social etiquette is apparently more than knowing how to correctly place your napkin at a dinner table or what fork to use with your salad. It calls for proper manners and courteously relating with others.

 

Whether you’re at a social function or charity event, there are rules that are followed in social settings. Hence, understanding the basic principles can help you socialise better. Here are some guidelines;

Mind first impressions

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. The tone you give when you first arrive at a gathering is bound to influence how things unfold for you. Ensure to give a warm and positive atmosphere that will attract others to spend time with you. This will help you not to feel out of place, because when it comes to social gatherings judgment is always being made and this is always made based off impressions.

Dress right for the occasion

How you dress for an occasion determines how you feel in most cases. Dress right for the event but most importantly choose an outfit that makes you feel comfortable. If you are not at ease, it will be hard to make the most of your time while networking.

Vestine Umahoro, a procurement officer, says she is always careful with how she dresses. When it comes to corporate events, she mostly goes for suits or chic dresses and always picks simple outfits for causal get-togethers.  

“We are mostly judged by how we dress. When planning for an event or party, it’s always important to mind the general dress code of the event. Don’t be too classy when an event calls for casual and vice versa.”

Be aware of irritating habits

Have you ever sat across someone who openly picks his teeth? Chews with their mouth open or snorts tea through their nose? It’s not really pleasant. 

Diana Tumuhairwe, a sales agent, says whereas it’s hard to confront people with such habits, it’s important to learn from their mistakes and refrain from making them ourselves. 

“There is nothing as awkward as doing an embarrassing thing in public when you are not even aware of it. We need to be intentional with how we carry ourselves in public, it matters a lot the impression we give to society,” she says.

Make an effort to be interesting

Socialising and meeting new people can at times feel intimidating. But chances are that many are fighting the same fear, so you’re not alone. Take initiative to introduce yourself to people first, start conversations and keep them going. Slowly by slowly, this will help you overcome your nerves. 

Keep up with modern table manners

Groom your dining skills because these apparently say a lot about a person. Right from the seating etiquette to the way you hold a napkin - it all matters when creating a good impression. Apart from the basics, such as not talking on your phone or not talking when you have food in your mouth, table manners can also include complimenting the hostess if you like the food.

Preserve your reputation 

Most ceremonies serve alcohol but it’s important to know your limits. In the face of fun and excitement it is possible for one to overindulge, but this is risky because you may say or do something that you might later regret. And this would be putting your reputation on the line over a few hours of fun. It is, therefore, vital to safeguard your reputation at all times. 

Be respectful to others

Uwamahoro says she has observed that most people who flow well with others in public are those who treat people with utmost with respect and dignity. 

When interacting with people, making use of polite language creates a nice atmosphere for a conversation. And for everyone to be comfortable, avoid rude language that insults or offends so everyone feels at ease. 

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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