As I write this article, we are all to stay home and not venture out in public. Eating out at a nice sit-down restaurant is not permitted for us right now, where I live in Austin, Texas, due to the current Corona Virus situation. This will pass, and soon we will be able to entertain friends in our homes once again, or perhaps now if you know for sure all are healthy, just keep it below ten and the authorities won’t bother you. This article is not about the virus situation; instead, it is about when you will have guests over for dinner, how to ensure you have pleasant and intriguing conversations. Being a great host is not that difficult when you understand some basics of seating arrangements.
In my book, “Sit Your Way to Success,” I discuss strategy and psychology behind seating positions around the conference table, sales meetings, and other business situations. Why not apply the same logic to your home entertainment? It can change the dynamics of your dinner party.
It may surprise you to see that just by changing the seating arrangements, you can also influence the interactions among guests
I like to mix it up and have those who don’t know one another very well sit next to each other. This encourages conversation for them to get to know each other, and it also can prevent “cliques” or small group conversations, which tend to leave new guests out of the loop. As the hostess of the dinner party, you are responsible for the organization of where your guests sit. You can use seating assignments to create the situation for great conversation and interaction among your guests by understanding a few techniques.
When your guest is comfortable, he or she will interact and add to the conversation more than if uncomfortable. Have them sit in a seat with their back toward a wall, if possible. Having our back facing a wall or solid object provides a sense of security, and we feel more relaxed. This is especially important if you have a guest who is unfamiliar with the others present, this simple seat arrangement will have them more at ease.
If you have a guest whom you know is shyer and more introverted, have them sit in the power position or at the head of the table. This seating position encourages them to talk more often and with more authority.
The shape of your table is essential, for it will affect the overall conversation and interaction among your guests. Most dining tables are rectangular shaped so that seating arrangements will be key, and the larger the table, the more important. If you have a round table, then it won’t be that important because everyone will be on equal footing, able to see one another easily, so interaction with one another is natural.
When you have a more extended rectangular table, it can often occur that two different conversations happen simultaneously at each end of the table, and those sitting in the center need to choose sides or which dialogue is most interesting to participate. This is why planning the seating arrangements of your guests is essential. If you know someone tends to dominate the conversations, don’t seat them at the head of the table, instead place them toward the center, they will be part of the conversation instead of always leading it.
These are some simple ideas you can use at your next gathering to make your event one that will be remembered for great conversation and relationship-building.