Monday, March 16, 2009

First, I'll tell you what I'm not good at:

Blogging right before bed. I'm tired. I find it difficult to put all of the brain thought into the type hands.

I do pride myself on my cocktail party knowledge, and my ability to translate that into success at cocktail parties. No, you silly goose - I'm not flaunting my knowledge of where there are cocktail parties or the history of cocktail parties. Not my knowledge of cocktail parties, knowledge useful at cocktail parties.

Have you ever been in a social situation, such as a cocktail party, at which you meet someone for the first time (or are thrust into a social interaction with someone you barely know) and have a difficult time finding something to talk about? This is where cocktail party knowledge comes into play.

The only difficult thing is to initiate a conversation. This should be a fairly well focused question or an unopinionated statement based on something in your shared history with this person (as short as this history may be). You might be thinking that the question option is the easier - and therefore preferable - way to go. Wrong. Common errors (AKA old standbys) are questions about the local sports teams or weather or politics. Politics are very dangerous, as you should all know by now. Weather is boring. If weather is your standard move you are a douche. Stop reading and send me an email ( to set up a private conversation tutoring session. Ninety dollars per hour. Sports sound safe, but if you run into someone who doesn't watch sports, you not only have failed to initiate conversation, but now you have an awkward roadblock in your shared history. Shared history is the way to go.

Make a statement. Try not to color it, just lay something out and wait to see how they react. And don't wimp out and say you have no shared history with someone you've just met. You're in the same room, you walked through the same door, you were offered the same drinks. These are all jumping off points. But it isn't the start of the conversation that makes one a good cocktail party conversationalist. It's the knowledge that you can recall to keep the conversation going.

And where do you get this knowledge? Television. I love television. I watch a lot of it. This is research. I watch all sorts of programs, but I lean towards educational stuff. This comes in handy when I can recall some knowledge germane to a subject at a cocktail party. I know a little bit about a lot of different subjects. I know enough about enough things that I can drop a little something and then gently nudge the conversation toward a topic that I know more about. The segues are important, because you don't want the other person to perceive that you have changed the subject, but that comes with practice.

For now, start watching more television. I highly recommend these channels: Green; Food; History; TLC ; Discovery; and ESPN. Ease yourself into it - start with two hours a day.

And remember - booze makes cocktail party conversation easier to do and harder to forget.

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