Question: Every now and then we have the privilege of entertaining dear friends who are in the same profession. The problem is they are so caught up in their work and often differ about certain phases of it, and our lively evening invariably ends up in a verbal brawl. What can I, as the host, do to stop the conversation from reaching boiling point tactfully?
Answer: Here's how a few successful hosts apply emergency tactics, as well as some tips for avoiding a complete party breakdown.
Mr. Blackwell, critic, actor, author, fashion commentator:
"I always go to another phone in the house and call the person who is creating the commotion. I tell them to please wait, and after a while hang up. By the time the person returns to the party, guests have gone on to another topic.
Charlotte Maillard, professional hostess, chief of protocol for the City of San Francisco:
"Knowing who you're seating together helps avoid problems. Besides, if you tell people how nice they are, you won't have any problems."