Ten Commandments of Good Conversation

By Gary Screaton Page

https://www.garyscreatonpage.com

Version © 2011 by Gary Screaton Page. All rights reserved.

“The less people think,” said Baron de Montesquieu the great political philosopher, “the more they talk.”

Speech is one of the best mediums of human interaction and instruction. Much that is valuable to know is not written down — anywhere. Yet, it can often be found in good conversation. Fortunately, the art of good conversation can be learned and it ought to be.

According to Henry Paget, the late Bishop of Chester, England, “There is no better way in which to test the reality of our culture than by the self-discipline it teaches us to use in talk.” Paget even went so far as to argue that that “the chief service we can render, the chief outcome that the World will look for from our higher education, is that in our homes, in the society around us, we should set a higher example of the right use of speech.”

In business, as in all other areas of life, the right tone, temper, and discretion in conversation and the abhorrence of idle words, is a mark of an effective manager. In commerce and industry, the art of effective conversation can mean the difference between the success or failure of a venture. However, effective conversation — winning speech if you will — is not always easy to master.

On the one hand, we must always be careful what we say. We must never to be pretentious, unnatural, or nitpicking. Certainly, we must not be trying to set others right. For, what is to be gained by winning an argument while losing a customer or friend in the process?

On the other, we must also be careful how we say it. Wise businesspeople keep their wishes and passions from coloring their views. They take pains to enter into the minds and feelings of others. Other people appreciate when we try to understand how things look to them. Even so, whatever effort we make in that regard, the result will still fall short of perfection occasionally. That we made the effort at all, however, will usually be appreciated.

Know your moods and how they may be reflected in your speech. For the most part, keep your likes and dislikes to yourself. Bear in mind that most people distrust their first impressions until they have frankly and thoughtfully examined them. Keep in mind that others seldom care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Resist the desire to say clever or surprising things. Resolve to neither over or understate your case. Above all, let nothing pass our lips that Wisdom would prudently censor. Remember, since none of us knows everything, you will be respected if you are willing to admit your ignorance. When you need to do so, be silent thereafter. Listen and learn.

Here are The Ten Commandments of Good Conversation. They can help you become a more effective conversationalist:

(1) Talk about what matters rather than about trivialities.

(2) Choose your company wisely for a profitable interchange of ideas. The best company, like the best books, is uplifting, informative, and entertaining.

(3) Study the character of your companions. If they are your superiors, learn from them. Ask them questions. Then, be an attentive listener. If they are your subordinates, render them the best service you can. Always be respectful of others regardless of their station in life.

(4) Fill your mind with suitable topics for use when the conversation wanes.

(5) When you hear something especially new, valuable, or instructive, make note of it. Enter it as soon as you can into a notebook you keep for such conversational jewels.

(6) Always aim to be pleasing in what you say. Never ridicule!

(7) Avoid making hasty statements or drawing conclusions too quickly. Take time to weigh the different sides of a subject. Take a broad view of things.

(8) Let the conversation drift naturally from one subject to another. Do not hold too tenaciously to one subject. Your companion may wish to talk about other things
of more interest to them.

(9) Make yourself inconspicuous in conversation. Never display superiority. Keep modest manner. Doing so will be to your credit.

(10) Bear patiently with those holding opposite views to your own. You just might be wrong and you would miss an opportunity to learn from them.

Gary Screaton Page, Ph.D., is a Counseling Therapist at http://www.therapyonline.ca/.

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