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Monday question: Accent-uate the positive

Posted by Robin Abrahams  February 14, 2011 06:40 AM

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Let's take a break from all things Valentine-oriented, shall we? This must have been a frustrating situation for all involved:

I frequently attend business networking events and consider myself above average on the friendly and welcoming scale. I recently found myself seated near a gentleman with a very thick accent, one I had a very difficult time deciphering. I ended up exhausting myself trying to carry on a basic conversation. (I apologized for my inability to understand or hear him; I asked him to write down a few of the words rather than ask for third or fourth repetitions. I finally gave up, feeling terrible.) I was frustrated, and I am sure he was as well, and I doubt he would want to attend this particular group again. He even commented (I think) that everyone must know each other all ready as people viewed my attempt to speak with him and shied away from trying it themselves. Suggestions on how to handle in the future?

I'll post my response on Friday, and this Wednesday we'll have a chat right here at noon. Come join us!
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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