Talking about Talking

I am fascinated with the art of conversation. You will know that I periodically reflect here about my own adventures into making conversations – when I am bored, tired, disagreeable or being anti social. I have also walked away from exchanges with older women who have made the most amazing inroads into my life through a few moments of questions, answers and comments. I would like to be able to converse well, wouldn’t you?

American TV personality Barbara Walters says this about conversation in How to talk with Practically Anybody About Practically Anything (1970):

I happen to disagree with the well-entrenched theory that the art of conversation is merely the art of being a good listener. Such advice invites people to be cynical with one another and full of fake; when a conversation becomes a monologue, poked along with tiny cattle-prod questions, it isn’t a conversation any more. It is a strained, manipulative game, tiring and perhaps even lonely. Maybe the person doing the talking enjoys himself at the time, but I suspect he’ll have uncomfortable afterthoughts about it; certainly his audience has had a cheerless time.
A conversation, even a brief one, should have all the best features of any functioning human relationships, and that means genuine interest on both sides, opportunity and respect for both to express themselves, and some dashes of tact and perception. Conversation can be such pleasure that it is criminal to exchange comments so stale that neither really listens. 

In our technology saturated modern world the art of conversation is growing stale, as we choose to text and have e-conversations in place of face to face ones. The humble conversation is at risk of dying a sad death, only to be remembered by those older than I. Let’s hope that by listening more and by genuine interest from both parties a real conversation culture will develop. Let’s talk about it some more, hey!