There is an art to practically everything we do. We have the ability to create little pieces of art every day in our lives whether it be designs out of pancake batter, vacuuming straight lines in the carpet, or having a simple conversation with a stranger at a bus stop.
Conversing with people is an art because it can be simple and complex, filled with beauty, and brighten people’s day. With many forms of art, practice is involved. While the majority of us have conversations every day, are those conversations pleasant, profitable, and pleasurable? Having one of those conversation is difficult, but it possible.
In conversations, there are rules and factors that come into play because there are obstacles we face that need to be overcome. Language, the tool we use to communicate, is imperfect making it obscure and unclear creating constant bouts of misunderstanding. Even in trying to communicate clear, your audience’s ability to understand or pay attention still comes into play. Have you ever said the wrong thing or have come across in a way not intended? Though it takes much care and attention on all parties in conversation to strive to understand one’s meaning in the language used, it is essential to strive to understand each other, otherwise conflicts will constantly occur. I have compiled a helpful list from Mortimer J. Adler’s book How to Speak/How to Listen which will place us on the right path on how to speak in pleasant conversation.
- Although many of us like to hear ourselves talk, even occasionally looking at ourselves in the mirror, it is nice to ask others about themselves and to get to know people. Human beings are proud and we like to talk about ourselves. This is one of the best ways to get people to come out of their shell. By in large, people know themselves and there is an easy way to get a conversation going.
- Don’t be an interrogator and go from one question and topic to the next-bam, bam, bam. If there can be follow up conversation about an answer, take the lead and fill in details while adding little pieces of information about yourself. Getting both people involved in the conversation is the goal.
- Have you ever gone to party and began a conversation with someone only to quickly see their eyes wander off, giving the signal that they are done with talking to you? Our eyes have so much to do with our ability to converse. Give the courtesy, respect, and attention to someone and look at their eyes when you listen. People appreciate it when you give them your full attention.
- If there is a situation when someone joins your conversation, it is polite to briefly catch them up to speed on the topic at hand so as to include them in the conversation. Obviously, if it was a private conversation that would not be appropriate. But, as a rule of thumb, including other people makes the conversation more pleasant, profitable, and pleasurable.
- Getting a conversation started is hard enough as it is at times, so, it is not best to change the subject when the exchange is going well. sometimes. This is a great way to deflate the vibe of the group.
- I have an aunt who is notorious for asking awkward questions to people she hardly knows. A new boyfriend in the family and Auntie comes in to ‘save the day’ by asking him all these personal questions. This is what some declare as a ‘social foul.’ Don’t commit a social foul by prying into someone’s private life if you do not have that kind of relationship with them. This is one of the best way to get pegged for life.
- Don’t gossip. While some old women love to sink their false teeth into juicy gossip, there is nothing pleasant nor profitable in doing so. It is a sin against God and it also puts people in a awkward position.
Although this list is not exhaustive, they are helpful tips and reminders for being able to converse in a pleasant and profitable manner. Is the art of your conversation beautiful or ugly? What can you improve on? Where will you go from here? For me, my goal is to work on maintaining eye contact with those I am talking with and share the pleasures of life with others in pleasant conversation.