Some of us consider our gut feelings before we speak while the glib talkers among us beat us to the punch and speak effortlessly, quickly and brilliantly. It’s totally disgusting, in my humble opinion, and I think I am losing at this game of words.

“Let’s face it – the clever, witty, glib talkers can make the non-clever, non-witty, and non-glib sound like slow dolts… And as the world speeds up and decisions have to be made right frickin’ NOW, it just gets worse.” –headrush.typepad.com


Some of us consider our gut feelings before we speak while the glib talkers among us beat us to the punch and speak effortlessly, quickly and brilliantly. It’s totally disgusting, in my humble opinion, and I think I am losing at this game of words.

Happens to me all the time, too, especially over dinner.

I could be fascinatingly articulate at table talk if you give me five minutes to ponder before I speak.

But we don’t have five minutes anymore do we?  We must be “Johnny on the Spot,” as my Grandmother used to say.

Smooth, convincing and slick talkers sound reasonable enough, but they could be dead wrong. While the hesitant and faltering conversationalists among us might be slow to respond but are spot on when they do.

I am fine with being in the latter group if that is indeed the case, but I also recognize the need to be little quicker on the trigger and improve my dinner conversational skills.

If one is not quick or accomplished at repartee, here are a few tips from my version, a table talk etiquette guide, to transform you into a full-fledged “deipnosophist” (someone skilled in table talk).

Keep it Humorous – My Top 5 Conversation Savers if You Are in a Conversation Pickle:

5. If someone is using a lot of brash  “expletives” that need to be deleted from their rhetoric, never respond in kind. Divert their attention, just like we do with 2-year-olds. Pepper your speech with phrases like these: “holy buckets,” “cheese and rice,” “sweet onions,” “fiddlesticks,” or “fudge.” They’ll get your point.

4. Never, never get drawn into one-upmanship. It is so tempting, I know, but don’t. Instead, agree with how marvelous the person’s accomplishments are and refrain from mentioning your own. In time, “it will all come out in the wash,” another of my Grandmother’s life tips. Change the subject to self-deprecating humor instead; it is always charming.

3.  Dinner conversation is not Monopoly. Never monopolize it. No one wants to hear from only one person and don’t let that person be you. I will have to excuse myself and go to the powder room for a break if you do. If you see folks yawn, then it must be you who is doing the pontificating.

2.  If you can’t remember names and are terrible at introductions (as I am), apologize and make a joke.  Sometimes, I say this quote from Roseanne: “Right now, I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time.  I think I have forgotten this before.” Or this one, “You know, my memory is not so good any more. I feel like Steve Martin who said sometimes it’s fun to sit in my garden and try to remember my dog’s name.”

1.  Interrupting. This number one conversational no-no is tops on everyone’s list. And, here’s the dirty little secret: everyone does it. Therefore, I don’t think we can beat up on ourselves too much for being human.

However, if you encounter an interrupting maniac, I have no suggestions for stopping the madness other than throwing out a one-liner and running away screaming.

Such as, “Excuse me, did you know that the time between slipping and hitting the floor equals one bananosecond?”

That ought to make them pause long enough for you to seize the opportunity.

Then, run!