So you're at a party and doing well with making small talk, and then -- oops -- you say something stupid. We've all put our foot in our mouth sometimes. You can recover from a social etiquette mistake, and to prove it, here are some quotes that will remind you that you aren't alone.
“In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet."
Can you just picture rotund Winston Churchill eating his words? Churchill is known for his witty quotes, and this one tells me he knew how to move on quickly from a social gaffe. If one of Britain's Prime Ministers can move on from a conversation "oops," the rest of us can learn to do it gracefully as well.
"The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven't thought of yet."
As an introvert myself, I often marvel at how much (and how fast) other people can talk. Sometimes, when I'm in a meeting or in a big group, I don't speak up as quickly as I should. As I'm formulating my thoughts, someone else chimes in over me. It's frustrating. Most of the time I think extroverts have the advantage in meetings or during group conversations for that very reason, they speak more quickly than introverts.
However, this quote talks about the other side of fast talk, which is blurting out something that you haven't give much (if any) thought to. The lesson here? Slow down and think before you speak.
"Better slip with foot than tongue."
Ben Franklin's wisdom usually makes me laugh and then cringe. This quote is no different. Franklin is spot on with the visual of someone falling down on their behind, and yet having that be much better (and less embarrassing) than a slip of the tongue. When you physically fall, you can laugh about it and get up, and chances are you might get a bruise but at least you haven't hurt anyone's feelings. But if you blurt out something stupid? You'll have a harder time healing the "wound" your words caused someone else.
"You will have many opportunities in life to keep your mouth shut: You should take advantage of every one of them."
Edison was a brilliant man, so his advice about talking less and listening more should be a good lesson for all of us.
"Of those who say nothing, few are silent."
Have you ever spent time with someone who just blabbed on and on and after you sat and listened to them, you wondered what on earth they were even talking about? That's what this quote applies to. I picture this advice coming in very handy with cocktail parties and small talk. Some people feel that small talk is chatting a lot to several different people. In reality, if you can focus on one or two people and transform small talk into meaningful conversation, you'll be much farther ahead in developing a new friend than if you'd just talked randomly with many different people.
Small talk is important in conversation, but that doesn't mean it is filled up with meaningless words.