DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper etiquette to join a conversation already in progress?
For example, at a social gathering, a couple of people are already having a conversation. Is it OK to approach the group and say “hello,” or do I approach the group and wait for them to acknowledge me?
When someone approaches my group conversation, I always acknowledge the person right away and share the topic we are discussing. Most of the time, I approach a group and say “hello,” but is this considered interrupting? A few times, I have walked up to a conversation and stood there and was never acknowledged. Very awkward. Help ... I don’t want to be rude, but I love to talk too!
GENTLE READER: Inserting oneself into a conversation in progress, like cutting in for a dance, does have its own etiquette. The newcomer must wait for a lull in the conversation, acting in the interim as if what is being said is both interesting and, even without the preamble, intelligible.
The established group is required to assume the opposite, namely that the newcomer does not know what is being said, and is therefore entitled to a brief, explanatory aside. At the next natural break, introductions can be made all around. While a group holding a conversation in a social gathering should welcome newcomers, Miss Manners warns that such will not always be the case. It is therefore best to actually listen to what is being said, in case it is time to beat a hasty retreat.