Social Question

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

When having dinner with friends, how much do you need to include everyone in the conversation?

Asked by MyNewtBoobs (19026points) October 18th, 2010

Last night, I went over to my fathers house for dinner with him, his wife, and a couple my father and his wife are friends with. The couple and my father and his wife all work in the same industry and spend quite a lot of time dealing with each other as colleagues. The whole night was shop talk, no one asked me how I was doing or what was going on with me. Was this rude of them, or is it fine to steer the conversation towards what the majority wants to talk about?

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13 Answers

gingerlicious's avatar

I always try to make sure everyone joins in and that there is no embarrassing pauses of have anyone feeling left out in a conversation.

jrpowell's avatar

That is how it has always been with me. You get a bunch of co-works together and people talk about what they know. It sucks for the other people but it always seems to happen. Next time you might want to load up on some interesting news topics before you find up in the same situation.

partyparty's avatar

Your father and his wife were host/hostess, and as such they should have included you in their conversation, by chatting about topics they know you are interested in.
I understand they were co-workers, but you most certainly should not have been excluded.
It is up to the host and hostess to make you feel comfortable. Clearly this didn’t happen.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@partyparty I’m not interested in their shop talk, but I do know enough that if I want to be part of the conversation I can be. That might have been part of why they did it.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’m absolutely with @partyparty on this. I mean, really, the username and avatar say it all! :-)

I host Thanksgiving dinner ebery year with a very diverse group and I really try to see that everyone is included in the conversation. Basic good manners.

partyparty's avatar

@JilltheTooth Yes I do host many parties, and it is hard work, but I always make sure my guests are smiling, well fed, introduced to everyone and included in the whole evening.
I may be exhausted at the end of the evening, but I am sure my guests will have enjoyed themselves. That is my job as hostess.
As you say, it is basic good manners.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I try to include everyone.
They were rude to exclude you.

Austinlad's avatar

I agree with all the advice above, but I also believe that the guest has a responsibility to mix in. Sociability is a learned skill that takes practice and yes, fearlessness – and this might have been an ideal venue to start practicing. You might have anticipated that colleagues would talk shop, and prepare by boning up on their business and how its being affected these days. Who knows – you might have brought fresh information and insight to the conversation. I know it’s hard to make yourself a part of things when you’re feeling left out, but sociability is a skill worth mastering; it will serve you the rest of your life. (By the way, I speak from experience. In my younger days I would have felt, and still do sometimes, exactly the way you did.)

jrpowell's avatar

@JilltheTooth :: Four out of the five people were in the conversation. One was left out.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@johnpowell ; yeah, I got that, but personally I would have tried to include all the people somehow.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

If I’m the host—as I am, rarely—I take it as a near-sacred obligation to include everyone. Even when I’m not the host, I try to be aware of who’s not involved or included in the conversation, and include them. (More often than not, it happens to be me, and then I just try to smile and appear open to conversation.) I know how uncomfortable it can feel to be the odd man out, and I try to make sure that others don’t feel that way—unless they seem to want to.

I once read an article on conversation that said a good conversationalist should be able to speak about anything at all, from “world peace” to “helicopter maintenance”. And I’ve actually started some conversations along the lines of “Would you like to discuss world peace, helicopter maintenance, or some other topic of your choosing?” Usually the person is so hooked by that one topic that they weren’t expecting that they ask me if I’m in the helicopter business, and then we start a conversation about who-knows-what (starting with “no, I’m not in that business; what do you do?” etc.).

But here in Connecticut there are several companies who build, test and make control systems for helicopters, and once I tried that conversational gambit on someone I didn’t know… and got a dissertation on helicopter maintenance. So I tend to raise other topics now as potential starters.

downtide's avatar

If I’m at a party I talk to everybody. No-one gets left out if I’m there, and if I notice someone being left out by others I’ll keep them company.

Rhodentette's avatar

If I have people around to dinner, I’ll make sure that everyone at the table is involved in the conversation. My partner helps out with this because he’s also quite well socialised. I often find we have to “pick up the slack” for some of our guests who are not as well socialised. Those are the ones who’ll talk shop the whole evening or tie up vast chunks of the conversation telling everyone about their latest gadget and why it’s so great.

There is most definitely a reciprocal relationship between guests and hosts, but as a host, I wouldn’t want people leaving my party thinking what a boring time they’d had because they weren’t included in the conversations.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some of this myself and that’s part of why I make sure that everyone talks to everyone else, or we’re all talking about something that exclude one person. That just sucks.

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