How to Masterfully Steer Away from Awkward Conversations with the Swivel Method

It seems inevitable that whenever we have holiday parties and family gatherings, we must make polite conversation with the relatives and guests to show proper etiquette. So, we try our best to make small talk, initiate the conversation, and keep it going. However, there comes a point when somebody comes up with some very personal and, at times, pointed questions which we would rather not answer. How then should we react without being flippant or rude about it? Communication experts suggest the swivel method.

The swivel method is basically pivoting away from the awkward topic by acknowledging it, showing appreciation and empathy, and then subtly moving on to another topic. It's a form of redirection that doesn't make the person feel as though they have stepped on a landmine. With the swivel method, you don't ruin the mood and you keep the momentum going.

Now, it's a different case if people continue to press you on those matters. Generally, people don't mean to put you in an awkward position. It's best to assume that they are well-meaning with their questions, just that they are unaware which questions cross boundaries. If, on the other hand, we find ourselves being the person others feel the need to swivel from, Debra Fine, an etiquette expert, suggests to never ask questions that we don't know the answers to.

(Image credit: Antenna/Unsplash)


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