Many observers of modern society complain bitterly that the
art of conversation has been irretrievably lost in the
Yet on closer examination, we discover that the art of
conversation is quite alive and well in America. Only its
rules of engagement have changed from what they were a
century or two ago. The “art of conversation” has always
managed to adopt itself to the times and mores of society.
In eighteenth century England, Samuel Johnson quipped
dryly: “Questioning is not the mode of conversation among
gentlemen.” It was considered quite rude to confront
someone with a question in “polite conversation.”
Today, questions politely phrased indicate a high degree of
interest in the speaker and are used to propel the
Women during Victorian times were expected to engage in
conversations that addressed only a few light subjects. The
weather was a favorite. It rarely raised heated debate,
which was to be shunned at all costs.
Today, women appear to be as free as men to indulge
debating any topic of interest. Consider the thousands of
chat rooms, forums and blogs on the Internet with exchanges
on virtually any topic you can imagine!
Conversation is the foremost means of self-expression of
all people. It provides a means of transmitting knowledge
from one generation to the next. Conversation creates
self-confidence, and enables us to build trust among
people. Let’s define exactly what we mean by the phrase,
“art of conversation.”
An “art”, according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, is “a
skill acquired by experience, study or observation.” A
“conversation” is “an oral interchange of sentiments,
observations, opinions or ideas.” So, “the art of
conversation” could be said to be a “skillful exchange of
Just how do we go about becoming masters of the art of
1. Try to be comfortable, both physically and
psychologically, as you enter into a conversation. If
either of you is uncomfortable, the conversation is likely
to be stilted and artificial.
To become a master at the art of conversation, try to make
the other person as comfortable as you yourself would like
2. Try to find out something interesting about your
partner. Whether the conversation is one struck up between
two perfect strangers on a train, or with your life-long
best friend, trying to get to know that person better is a
key strategy to be used in good conversation.
Asking how someone feels is a great first step in providing
the basis of that comfort and security.
3. Be credible! A master of the art of conversation will
always support his or her opinions with a goodly amount of
information that can be easily verified. Credibility builds
trust, and trust leads to the highest level of
4. Try not to interrupt the other person. This one is key!
It’s just plain rude and often results in argument, the
least desirable form of communication.
5. Use questions, instead of making statements. Questions
involve a response that will carry the conversation forward
naturally. Flat statements are often considered threatening.
These easy steps are the key cornerstones for learning to
become a master of the modern art of conversation. This is
true whether you might be chatting on the Internet, dining
in a fine restaurant, or simply enjoying the company of
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