It is not the age of conversation, that much is clear from the growth of social media and social networking. The hustle and bustle of life brought about by the machines and the computer age, easily supplies us another reason do discount the art of conversation! But none of us would deny the fondness for the noise created by that eloquent of all parts of the body – The Human tongue! We hate to be absent from it for long, we feel restless when we cannot hear the sounds produced as the vocal chords contract and relax. We try to enjoy the constant blare of people’s voices, speech rather than the contents of the speech that gives us comfort! It is an appeal to the mob instinct, the gregarious nature of each human being. The use of language instead of being something personal to each individual is vulgarized to a common denominator of familiar catch cries, and profanities.
An understanding of the exact use and usage of words is the first essential to clear thoughtful conversation. This should be followed by a process of choosing and rejecting till you reach a graceful and fully formed presentation of an Idea. There is no harm in consulting a dictionary to improve the vocabulary and thus improve the conversation, rather than not be able to put forth your idea due to lack of vocabulary. It would be tragic if your thoughts go astray because of a deficiency in language!
Exercise is the best way to develop. Not physical, but the constant use of words to learn to manage them efficiently. It doesn’t mean that we delve deep in to literature, or start our own literary effort. Literature shows the art in practice and a literary effort is not for all of us; both are not going to teach something about the art of conversation.
But in conversation, we may find the natural exercise in words which gives familiarity and ease.
There have been generations, particularly those of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which have taken delight in conversation for its own sake. Concerned with ideas, but equally desirous of their exact presentation, they needed no artificial aids to pass a pleasant and profitable hour.
The human tongue was given to each of them, and each one was encouraged to use it. He who sought to dominate the circle with the manner of the lecturer was frowned or ridiculed back to his proportioned share in the feast of words and ideas. Too often now, when we meet that rarity of to-day, the good conversationalist, we force the lecturer’s wand into his hand through sheer mental inertia.
Conversation is the art of making others speak, as well as speaking ourselves, and most of all it is the art of listening.
At the outset, reference must be made to the catch cries and vulgarities which take the place of human speech in society. How often do “sez you,” “your telling me,” and other familiar Americanisms, not to mention the unprintable, which are by far the commonest, take the place of a decent exchange of speech, even on the most ordinary subjects.
Even among the intellectual elite, it is regrettable to think that these forms are not entirely absent. Indeed they are perhaps too prevalent. As for a conscious effort to get the best out of everyday conversation, that is so far absent, that, alas, it is never missed.
And yet, just for twenty-four hours give conversation a real chance.Switch of the television, switch off your tablets, switch of your computers. In so far as it concerns you personally, practice speaking carefully, with a nice regard for meaning, and listening politely with an unwonted regard for good manners.
You will gain, and so will all who have to endure your presence. In time, given the capacity to persevere, you will see the cobwebs of cliche which obfuscate the modicum of intelligence you possess, pass away, and then you will have just begun to appreciate the use of the tongue God gave you. God help you!