The etiquette of making conversation

Using good manners is still a part of our culture. Here are some tips for making conversation using good manners.

Michigan State University Extension frequently fosters communication skills amongst 4-H members and volunteers. Good manners are important elements of communicating effectively. They are important to everyday interactions as well as maintaining a positive work environment.

Using good manners puts others before you and is a sign of respect and courtesy. Etiquette implies polite behavior and can help build relationships with people, whether it is applied in the workplace or at a social gathering. As some work environments move towards more informal work spaces and open space, good manners become more important to building teamwork and positive communications amongst coworkers. Here are some tips to making conversations using good manners:

  • Make “please” and “thank you” part of your daily conversation.
  • When someone says “thank you,” say “you’re welcome” in response.
  • Avoid awkward words such as um, huh, hmm, nah and yeah. Instead, pause and think before speaking.
  • Keep your tone of voice pleasant.
  • Take care with “friendly put-downs” that actually tend to hurt and are not really funny like you intend, i.e. “shut up” or “so what.”
  • Break the ice by asking questions such as, “Where are you from?” or “What are your hobbies?”
  • Take turns talking and avoid telling long stories or sharing too many details.
  • If you are on a cell phone in a public place, find a quiet place you can continue the conversation or keep your voice down so that the entire area does not have to hear your conversation.
  • When leaving a message on an answering machine or voice mail, speak clearly; always indicate your name, who you are calling for and why you are calling.
  • Be a good listener by nodding your head and making eye contact.
  • Comment on what the other person has said.
  • Do not interrupt while someone else is talking.
  • Depending on the generation you are communicating with, consider not emailing, texting or talking on electronic devices while conversing with someone. For many, this is interpreted as disrespectful.

Putting these tips into practice will enhance new conversations and strengthen relationships with friends and coworkers.

MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H career preparation, money management, and entrepreneurship programs, read the 2015 Impact Report: “Preparing Michigan Youth for Future Careers and Employment.

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