Realising you have made a social faux pas is a heart sinking moment. Sometimes the words just pop out before you have considered them, or you acted without thinking after one too many drinks.
We have all been there; it is part of life and can often happen when you are feeling the most nervous.
At that moment you wish the floor could open up and swallow you. Or be able to press rewind. But as neither of these are an option you must deal with it.
And deal with it you must – slopping off to the toilet for the rest of the evening is not an option if you want to regain your confidence quickly.
How to deal with a Conversation Faux Pas
I have found a balanced dose of humility and humour are the best options for dealing with the situation.
If you do commit a conversation faux pas the chances are, unless you are very arrogant (which is doubtful if you are reading this), that most people will feel for you and be gentle.
Humour diffuses the situation especially when it is self-deprecating, and humility shows that you are not rude.
For example: You are having drinks before dinner and chatting with the host. You mention that you don’t like chintzy tablecloths and she replies stating that her dining room is decorated in a shabby chic with plenty of chintz! Your best reply would be that you are still developing your own style and you look forward to seeing it as the rest of the house looks stunning.
And remember if you can't say anything nice...
...don’t say anything at all! The art of conversation also means saving any gossip you have just heard for your closest friend, and resist making any sarcastic or witty comments about someone else at the party, you do not want to be perceived as bitchy.
How to deal with any Inappropriate Behaviour
Alcohol affects good etiquette and social faux pas are more likely to happen after a few glasses of wine, not always, but quite often.
So, whilst I will offer the normal advice of drink less and pace yourself, most of know that with all our great intentions, sometimes we just get in the mood and the night takes on a life of it's own. Getting drunk is not rude per se, sometimes (depending on your culture and friends) it would be an insult to stay sober.
So, you mess up. What to do?
If it is just a case of feeling rather more tipsy than everyone else, excuse yourself to the bathroom, touch up your make-up and if both eyes are not looking in the same direction, call a taxi and get yourself home.
If it degenerated further and you offended someone, call a friend the next day and ask them for the details and then deal with it. Pick up the phone, make your apology swiftly and to the point, then move on. If the recipient is gracious they will accept your apology and forget it. Don't let things fester and get blown out of proportion.
Having good etiquette is not about being perfect - it is about dealing with our mistakes and social faux pas frankly, learning from them and moving on with our lives.
Other Social Etiquette Skills to learn on this site: