As we move into Christmas season, many people will find themselves in social situations they may not want to be in. They may find themselves sitting next to distant relatives or acquaintances who are tedious, obnoxious, annoying, pedantic, weird, bombastic, stupid, or all of the above.
For these situations, I would like to provide a handy guide to party conversation that will help anyone to be completely comfortable in any social situation and conversing with anyone.
Ten years ago, in a period when I went to even more parties than usual, I observed that close to 90% of conversations were essentially content-free. There are in fact many, many things that can be said that are ALWAYS appropriate at ANY point in ANY conversation. This means that you can say these phrases, irrespective of what the other person has just said, and it will always be a relevant way to continue the conversation and appear to be a brilliant conversationalist. I then engaged in a long-term research project, spanning many parties, in which I compiled a list of these “appropriate phrases” that can be used at any point in a conversation.
In the spirit of Christmas generosity, I now share these phrases with the world. Before you go to your next party, memorize a few of the phrases to use. If you prefer, print out the list, and surreptitiously refer to it during the conversation. No one is likely to notice, given your outstanding conversational skills.
Have fun with the 335 phrases listed here, and please add any other “always-appropriate” conversational gambits below when you have completed your Christmas party research. Happy partying!
You expect me to believe that?
That’s a good one
I’ll drink to that
Truer words were never spoken
Have you ever said that to anyone else before?
If something’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice
Could you say that again for me in a low, sexy voice?
I’m sure you can do better than that. Take 2!
Just give me one last pearl of wisdom, and then I have to go
Are you an actor, or are you always like this?
We don’t go for that sort of thing where I come from
Lots of people tell me I have a sick mind. Do you think so?
Enough small talk. How about it, then?
Do you understand what you just said?
Do you know for a moment there I almost believed you
I think that’s terrible! Call me old-fashioned if you like.
Just look around – aren’t most people like dogs in heat?
Personal reality is a very funny thing
That’s one way of looking at it
Now there’s a question
Could you say that again in a different way?
I think there’s some truth to that
I can’t deny that
Isn’t that a sweeping generalisation?
Did you have to say that?
That’s the way
I beg to differ
Everyone says that
I’m all ears
The way you speak excites me
How long have you been practising that?
That reminds me of a story…
I beg your pardon?
Do you think a sane, reasonable person would say such a thing?
It’s just a matter of time
When you come down to it, it’s all about boys and girls, isn’t it?
What happened next?
Do you really think so?
Tell me everything – I don’t mind
Pull the other one
I’ve had a thing about latex for a long time now – ever since I’ve been looking at you
Can you give me an example?
Too right, mate, too right
It never occured to me to look at it like that
I’m not sure about that – I’d have to think about it
Life’s like that
You can talk about sex openly if you want to
Could we just erase that last remark?
Look, I may not be smart, but stop using all those long words on me
It’s important to say what you think is right
It’s just what you’d expect, isn’t it?
These things happen
That’s illegal down south
What does that mean?
I could argue that point
Don’t go all technical on me!
We’re all among friends here
I wouldn’t dream of it
Well, life on earth’s unlikely, and here we are!
Things could always get worse
Did you think it was going to be easy?
Not a problem!
Get a grip on yourself!
That’s no excuse
I’m on a mission from God!
Not always, surely.
It proves chaos theory
You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do
Tell me, are you green?
There’s always a reason to celebrate
Some people say that
Well, in Hamlet he says, ‘see yonder cloud in the shape of a camel’
Do you come from an aristocratic bloodline?
I’ll second that
Have you had the operation?
It’s a question of striking a balance
I’ve heard that before
In what context?
Sometimes it’s like that, isn’t it?
What’s the purpose of that?
Have you ever been on television?
Let’s do lunch sometime
I bet you learnt the piano as a child
Does that apply to you as well?
It’s only limited by your imagination
You’ve got to be kidding!
But, honestly, do you really believe that?
You’re not from around here, are you?
Are you paranoid?
Oh, that’s interesting
I’ll put that on my list
Have you ever thought of being a politician/ actor/ used car salesperson?
And what happened next?
What was it you were saying?
No, before that
I have to stop that
Once again with a little more passion!
That’s a good idea
I wouldn’t have said that
Is that all you have to say?
Are you sure about that?
Oh, excuse me – I’ve just seen an old friend
You know, there’s an old Lancashire saying, “There’s nowt as queer as folk.”
Tell me, do you think this is a difficult conversation?
Now, that’s a big can of worms
You really land in the bunkers of my mind
And you expect me to believe that?
I’ve got an idea: you go that way, and I’ll go this way. Have a nice life!
I think that covers it all, really, doesn’t it?
That’s good, conceptually
What do you expect to get from this?
Did you think of that just now?
[Blow nose noisily] That’s better! Pray continue
Beam me up, Scotty!
Would your mother like you to say that?
Could you say that in another way?
Why did you say that?
I don’t know what you mean, but I’m still listening
Tell me more
You have a smooth tongue
That evokes some interesting images
If you say so
We digress! But only momentarily. What were you saying?
So what are the tax implications?
When you get to the bottom of it, the CIA will be involved, you’ll see
Is this as good as it gets?
There must be more to life than that
Wasn’t there something about that in the paper today?
You’re putting me on!
Why are you telling me this?
When you said that your aura turned red at the edges
C’est la vie!
Hasn’t that been done before?
That’s a very Aquarian thing to say
Did you go to a Catholic school?
It’s great to be alive
Life’s not fair
That says a lot about you
Is that your ego speaking?
Sounds like a dream to me
Let me write that down
Where do we go from here?
Why does that make me think of sex?
I’ll take your word for it
I couldn’t do without it
Don’t be silly!
You know that
Ah! It’s all too much for me
You’re just saying that
We all have a different attitude to different things
You mean no-one told you?
It’s nice with friends that you can say that
There’s only one way to find out
Hard to believe
You don’t want to know
You don’t say!
Yes I’m listening
Maybe you need some vitamins
I don’t believe you
You can never find one when you want one
It’s a wonderful world
That’s just so like humans, isn’t it?
I’m sure it will work out fine in the end
Music to my ears
You can’t deny it
Spooky, isn’t it?
Is that jam on your chin?
Be organised, that’s what I say
Have you tried praying?
That’s a bit glib, isn’t it?
You wouldn’t want to be taken out of context on that, would you?
Only in the mating season
What a load of rubbish
I have to think about that
I have to introduce you to someone I know
These things happen
Were you one of those people who protested about education cuts?
Who do you think I am?
It depends on your school of psychology. What’s yours?
Demand a refund!
How could you say that?
I hear what you’re saying
So they say
Well that’s some statement
Now you’re talking!
Someone I was just speaking to said exactly the same thing
That’s funky! Seriously funky
This is what we find
I know where you’re coming from
You sound just like my father/ mother
That’s uncanny! How did you know to say that just then?
I couldn’t have put it better myself
Is that a fact?
I’m sure I don’t know what you mean
Yes, but have you considered the spiritual dimension?
Are you serious?
I’d love to hear about that later
Monkey see, monkey do
Are you having as much as fun as I am?
Remember: three strikes and you’re out!
That’s a cliche if I ever heard one
Don’t look at me like that – I don’t know what I’m going to say next
Excuse me, I’ll be back in a minute
I believe it, but only because I’m Christian.
What were we just talking about?
By Jove, I believe you’ve got something there
That’s a bit strong, isn’t it?
It’s only natural
You have to go with the flow
Give me that one again
I never did mind the little things
This would make a good film
Did you think before you said that?
Isn’t there a song about that?
That’s what it’s all for
If that had a colour, what colour would it be?
It never ceases to amaze me
Run that by me again and I’ll really have it in my mind
Would you believe it?
Could you repeat that?
Is this on a need-to-know basis?
I can’t quite seem to grasp it
I made it myself
Snakes and ladders, snakes and ladders
You can only be in one place at the one time
It could be dangerous
It always works out in the end
By the way, can you recommend a good accountant?
I don’t think anyone’s pointed that out to me before
Don’t they teach that in school these days?
Go on then, tell me!
Obviously you’re not on the mailing list
I believe you
We’re on the case
Perhaps you should try a different hairdresser
I’m sorry to hear that
Tell me what you mean, exactly
It’s a big issue
What star sign are you?
It all fits together in the end
Don’t you find talking makes you thirsty?
Why? Is that important to you?
She’ll be right
Very nice, too
I believe it could
I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised
Don’t think about it
What are you missing out on?
That’s one way of describing it
Try it, you’ll like it
It works for me
Where were we?
You can never be certain
How much is it worth?
It’s a hypothesis
You’re bouncy tonight
So we are told
Don’t fight it
Freedom and choice, that’s what matters
It’s a question of perception
Don’t hesitate here
You’d better believe it
Let me guess – you vote Labor
Oh, is that the doorbell?
How old are you?
I can’t stress enough the importance of this project
You have to be in the mood for it
Is that rational?
To some degree
People have been saying that for a while
I think that takes care of it, doesn’t it?
Your barcode is showing
Everything takes time to learn
What’s the relationship between that and what I said?
What’s your point?
Are you normal?
Ain’t life grand!
Does it matter?