Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Butterfly's not Pigs : Tips for Social Etiquette


I'm sure you've heard of  "social butterflies" but what about social pigs. And yes this does include the flying variety.    No I have not flipped out. You see, in the last couple of weeks I have encountered a few of these wily beasts myself on a number of occasions. For instance, at a recent financial investment seminar my husband, Jim and I, attended - You know the kind of thing, where a Financial Adviser sprooks his stuff and guests speakers try and sell you there products/services etc, my husband said he had been "railroaded by a boor and didn't have the opportunity to mingle".   This started me thinking about other social outings where I had encountered social behvaour that was piggish.  I thought how you might use this analogy to categorize different conversation styles.  I thought I might share my pondering with you.  - just for fun  of course. As you read this (with tongue in cheek) reflect on your own social interactions and remember that we can all fall into these pig pens if we become complacent about how we communicate with others.   

Social Pig Categories



  1. Boar/Boor:  Loud and uncouth and embarrasses other people. Uncultured person, who lacks education, refinement and social graces. 
  2. Porker::  The person is telling you something that is far fetched and possibly not true. The facts they provide a rubbery and if you challenge them about the accuracy of their statement (hope fully not with pigs might fly too) they become offended.  
  3. Grunt-er: Takes a long time to get to the point.  Lots of ums and aha-rs.  
  4. Hog:  Demands all the attention and monopolies the conversation. It's all about him/her. You can't get a word in edge ways and you can't escape them.  
  5. Male Chauvinist Pig is a man who thinks that women are inferior or lesser then men and who acts on or makes statements to that effect.
  6. Sow: similar to above only the female version.
  7. Swiller:  spends the evening at the bar or the food table (I've fit this category on a number of occasions, particularly if the the information session is very dulling and they are serving a good red).
  8. Squealer: This is generally a female.  The person tends to have a high pitched voice and trills at every opportunity (some witty or less than witty, comment generally made by a male - (I've sometimes found myself fitting this description after I've been a Swiller).   
  9. Snouter: This is the snobby pig who will only mix with other Snouters or potential Snouters.  These pigs do not circulate and they do not invite people into their conversation unless they think their is some benefit to them.


How to Avoid Being Branded a Social Pig:


The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.
A Japanese Proverb 

  1. Upon Arrival : Locate the host and have a few quiet words. This signifies to your host not only of your arrival but shows respect and appreciation for the invitation. 
  2. Don't over indulge:  The food and drink might be free but it doesn't' mean you should cut loose and get sloshed.  If you do you might become rude or be aggressive to people. A couple of drinks to loosen up is fine. Be polite, crack some jokes, make small talk about topics of interest and enjoy yourself and help others to enjoy themselves too.
  3. Move around the gathering. Move about the gathering and mix freely with the other guests.  Circulate among the people you know initially and talk for a while then introduce yourself to some new faces. This will assist others to feel at ease around you. some great opening lines are :"Hi,  I haven't had the pleasure of meeting you before. My name is ... what's yours? or "What line of work are you?' These are open ended questions and inquire after the other person  (as opposed to talking about yourself) , but don't put them on the spot. If you get caught by a Boor, disengage by acknowledging what you have just heard (paraphrase what they have said) and then gracefully excusing yourself saying you have go. 
  4. Remember people's Names: If you can't remember someones name admit it and say something like "I'm sorry but i'm terrible with names, please tell me yours"  Debra Fine, author of  The Fine Art of Small Talk, says you should not ignore the other person out of embarrassment as they might think your are snobbing them and this defeats the whole purpose of networking.
  5. Be a Good Conversationalist: Have a repertoire of small talk conversation pieces.  Being aware of what is happening in the world at large, the weather, local events, TV shows etc give you a range of conversational starters this will help you to deal with multiple personalities.  If you are with a group of people you know and there is someone on the outskirts or new , then take the time to talk to them rather than being aloof and expecting them to make the first move or effort to get to know you. 
  6. Avoid Pig Behaviour: Ensure good communication techniques such as active listening, paraphrase and summarising. Remember to listen to what is being said rather than thinking how to respond.  be fully present to the other person. 
  7. If you are Alone: This can sometimes be the most challenging and awkward situation to be in especially if you don't know anyone at the event.  If you are alone, you may walk around a bit, drink a glass of wine or soft drink and soak up the atmosphere for awhile.  Keep a smile on your face and open posture, thus making yourself comfortable and allowing anyone to talk to you on your rounds.  If you see anyone else by themselves then rock up and introduce yourself. They will probably appreciate your company.
  8. Don't out Stay your welcome: As the evening draws to a close, excuse yourself form the group of people you're with and then thank the host for organizing the event before taking our leave. Don't be the last to leave.
I hope you enjoyed the humour of this post. I'm sure you've met your share of pigs in a variety of social setting over the years and have exhibited some pig behaviours too. Love to hear your stories and if you've encountered any other pigs I might not have mentioned.