How to Be a Good Guest

Being good guest doesn’t – ultimately – have to do with not being a nuisance and laughing along with your hosts. It means having a character, which may mean daring to be oneself.
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“It’s normal to want to be a good guest; an intense wish to please tends to guide us when we accept a dinner invitation or spend a weekend with friends. And we generally fulfil this ambition by following a leading theory of what satisfies other humans: we mimic our hosts. We follow their lead in the conversation, we discuss what they want to discuss, we eat when they want to eat. We are malleable, we adjust; we laugh at pretty much anything they find funny. It sounds extremely generous and deeply well-intentioned but there’s a strange aspect to this theory: the mimetic person is not, in practice, especially pleasing. They may not be offensive, but nor are they particularly memorable, interesting or even likeable.”


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Produced in collaboration with:

Nick Hilditch