Monday, May 18, 2015


Nobody knows how to talk anymore. Specifically, make conversation. The advent of smart phones, tablets, all the little silicon-laden boxes you see in peoples' faces and hands take the place of basic communication.

Barbering, bantering, shootin' the breeze, bumpin' your gums, chattering, all slang words that used to represent talking with another. Now we have "er, um, y'know, totally, know what I mean?" as fillers for vapid and scant communication. This goes along with other basic skills like doing math in your head, giving accurate verbal descriptions. Reading some of the comments on blog sites shows me that the problem is deep-seated; not just talking but thinking and being able to express thoughts in print or voice. Oh, and reading. As in books, not twitter and tweet.

"Be lucid, but spare me the details" Hawthorne to Wormold in Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana  is pretty good advice but how many folks know what "lucid" means?

The Brocker says I talk faster than I think. That's a good thing, right?
Ach, what does she know?

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.

 It will be in several parts, serialized so to speak.

The Art of Conversation in Brief
1.  Don't talk too long without pausing for a reaction. More than a minute is usually too long. Forty seconds is ideal.
2.  Never contradict or flatly disagree with the other person. It's an implied insult.
3.  Don't be too forceful or emphatic in stating your opinions until you learn the other person's attitude.
4.  Give the other person intellectual freedom and cooperation, and claim the same for yourself.

Notes from The Art of Conversation
by Milton Wright, 1936
The ability to talk well can be cultivated.
Interest you must have if your conversation is to be successful.
Interest can lie primarily in the subject or the person, the latter being by far the surer ingredient for success.
To chatter is easy. To talk resultfully with the hostile, suspicious, indifferent or even friendly is an art.
To really become a good conversationalist over the long term it is necessary to acquire the habit of conscientiously stocking your mind with facts and information and then forming opinions on the basis of that knowledge.
A monologue is not a conversation.
Silence plays an important part in effective conversation just as it does in music.
Masters of the art of conversation rarely give advice, and then, usually, only when requested. It is given tentatively and without seeming to impose their wishes.
The secret of giving advice successfully is to mix it up with something that implies a real consciousness of the adviser's own defects, and as much as possible of an acknowledgment of the other party's merits.
To plant a suggestion is a real test of conversational skill.


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