So, this has surely been a busy season of weddings!
I have been to two very enjoyable weddings within the past month in Detroit and Chicago. It’s been refreshing to actually attend a wedding where I wasn’t working or had at least one task.
I did however encounter the same awkward situation at both weddings. Now, this seemingly awkward situation wasn’t actually awkward for me personally, but I could easily see how this would be awkward and uncomfortable for many people.
I was placed at a dinner reception table with groups of people who I was not friends with nor had I ever met or been around before. Now, when this happens to most people, the initial reaction is to glare across the room at the table with all of your friends at it wishing you had a “get out of reception table jail” card. This is a natural and normal reaction, but the G.O.R.T.J. cards were all on back order, so I had to ride it out.
The amazing thing about these situations that you only grow to appreciate once you ride it out is that you meet people who you otherwise would have not met. Ironically, at the first wedding I sat right next to (on both sides of me) young women who I had attended high school with but had never met. One of them I even maintain contact with now for future business partnerships. At the second reception, I met a table full of young business professionals. The guy sitting next to me actually aspired to be in a field that I have a Master’s degree in, so I shared with him the ins and outs of the field and what to avoid and take advantage of.
As I often do when I meet new people, I asked him, “so, what is your dream job”. He said, “well, something to do with designing training and combining technology to reinforce content retention”.
Throughout our lives we WILL be forced into situations where we will have to sit, dine with and talk to new people. Unless you plan to stay inside and work remotely for eternity, it is inevitable that you will have to engage in small talk and sporadic conversation with strangers. This is why knowing and practicing social and public speaking etiquette is so important. Just imagine if there were someone at your reception dinner table who was able to offer you the job that you always wanted, but you totally rubbed them the wrong way because of inappropriate comments and actions.
Now of course, there is no denying that a wedding reception is really a celebration and a party where you should have fun and be “unstiff”, but knowing how to engage in small talk and carry on a comfortable and engaging conversation with your table mates is a skill set that will be eternally beneficial for you.
…until next time…