You may be the center of attention in every gala ballroom you enter or have so much money and power that you allow your social graces to fall by the wayside. Or perhaps you attend only one or two formal events during the season and feel as if you teeter on the fringes of “society.”
We media types have a special perspective on behavior at these events. We seldom have affluence. And although we typically attend as observers, we struggle to avoid becoming part of the story. At our best, we want to understand the cause (most social events have one) and explain and celebrate that in our magazine.
Inevitably, after you have attended dozens of gala events each year, the old charm-school lessons become second nature. But you’re never too seasoned for a little polish. Here are some tips for the season:
• Be assertive, bright, and positive. Help your host by mixing and mingling and being a part of the good time.
• Lie! That’s right. It’s OK at a party; in fact, it seems expected. If you always say what you really mean, you might drop off the A-list. Compliment that dress; overstate how much you enjoyed that cold and rainy visit to gray London.
• Praise the honorees and the High Priests and Priestesses of Charity. Sure, they’ve heard it a thousand times, but trust me: They’re happy to hear it again and again. And why not? It’s for a good cause.
• Be a matchmaker. Connect people with common interests and then politely excuse yourself so you can move on to other socially and politically important people.
• Take the drunk out for some fresh air.The drunk guest comes with the territory. Rather than cause a scene, say, “Hey, I think I’ve had one too many cocktails. Would you walk outside with me for some fresh air?” It always works. It’s the sober ones who behave like drunks that send you walking in the opposite direction.
• Break the silence and the tension. Ask for restaurant or vacation ideas. Or, if you encounter a dual of words, offer a light joke to cool the hotheads. If that fails, excuse yourself with a graceful smile.
Most important: Have fun and give!