Milton Wright wrote The Art of Conversation, a comprehensive treatment of the subject, in 1936. The book deals with conversation both for its own sake, and for political, sales, or religious ends. Milton portrays conversation as an art or creation that people can play with and give life to.
No quality is so conducive to pleasure in conversation as tact. The elements that make up tact are alertness, sympathy, and resourcefulness. Without tact a person, however witty, learned or sincere, is a menace to themselves and others whenever they engage in conversation.
While one fault will make a person a bad conversationalist, one virtue will not make him a good one. He must possess many qualities, some of them having to do with character, some with intellect, and some with temperament.
The ideal conversationalist is:
Interested in life
Has a sense of the dramatic
Can draw out the other person
Always in good humor
Has a sense of proportion
Doesn't take himself too seriously
A trifle whimsical
If you find the world dull, the chances are that your companions will find you dull.
Everyone's emotion of elation is waiting for a chance to assert itself. Give it every opportunity.
The good conversationalist should seldom preach or give advice. He should not dwell on moral issues or take the attitude of teaching his listeners. However instructive, eloquent and even interesting he may be the result is not conversation.
Even if you have a wholly unselfish desire to reform your listeners, it is well to realize that they won't like it.
Desire only to please the people with whom you are talking and you will infallibly do so.