Searchlights on Health/Conversation
Some men are very entertaining for a first interview, but after that they are exhausted, and run out; on a second meeting we shall find them very flat and monotonous; like hand-organs, we have heard all their tunes.—COULTON.
He who sedulously attends, pointedly asks, calmly speaks, coolly answers, and ceases when he has no more to say, is in possession of some of the best requisites of man.—LAVATER.
Beauty is never so lovely as when adorned with the smile, and conversation never sits easier upon us than when we know and then discharge ourselves in a symphony of Laughter, which may not improperly be called the Chorus of Conversation.—STEELE.
The first ingredient in Conversation is Truth, the next Good Sense, the third Good Humor, and the fourth Wit.—SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE.
HOME LESSONS IN CONVERSATION.
Say nothing unpleasant when it can be avoided.
Avoid satire and sarcasm.
Never repeat a word that was not intended for repetition.
Cultivate the supreme wisdom, which consists less in saying what ought to be said than in not saying what ought not to be said.
Often cultivate "flashes of silence."
It is the larger half of the conversation to listen well.
Listen to others patiently, especially the poor.
Sharp sayings are an evidence of low breeding.
Shun faultfindings and faultfinders.
Never utter an uncomplimentary word against anyone.
Compliments delicately hinted and sincerely intended are a grace in conversation.
Commendation of gifts and cleverness properly put are in good taste, but praise of beauty is offensive.
Repeating kind expressions is proper.
Compliments given in a joke may be gratefully received in earnest.
The manner and tone are important parts of a compliment.
Don't talk of yourself, or of your friends or your deeds.
Give no sign that you appreciate your own merits.
Do not become a distributer of the small talk of a community. The smiles of your auditors do not mean respect.
Avoid giving the impression of one filled with "suppressed egotism."
Never mention your own peculiarities; for culture destroys vanity.
Do not be too positive.
Do not talk of display oratory.
Do not try to lead in conversation looking around to enforce silence.
Lay aside affected, silly etiquette for the natural dictates of the heart.
Direct the conversation where others can join with you and impart to you useful information.
Avoid oddity. Eccentricity is shallow vanity.
Be what you wish to seem.
Avoid repeating a brilliant or clever saying.
If you find bashfulness or embarrassment coming upon you, do or say something at once. The commonest matter gently stated is better than an embarrassing silence. Sometimes changing your position, or looking into a book for a moment may relieve your embarrassment, and dispel any settling stiffness.
Avoid telling many stories, or repeating a story more than once in the same company.
Never treat any one as if you simply wanted him to tell stories. People laugh and despise such a one.
Never tell a coarse story. No wit or preface can make it excusable.
Tell a story, if at all, only as an illustration, and not for itself. Tell it accurately.
Be careful in asking questions for the purpose of starting conversation or drawing out a person, not to be rude or intrusive.
Never take liberties by staring, or by any rudeness.
Never infringe upon any established regulations among strangers.
Do not always prove yourself to be the one in the right. The right will appear. You need only give it a chance.
Avoid argument in conversation. It is discourteous to your host.
Cultivate paradoxes in conversation with your peers. They add interest to common-place matters. To strike the harmless faith of ordinary people in any public idol is waste, but such a movement with those able to reply is better.
Never discourse upon your ailments.
Never use words of the meaning or pronunciation of which you are uncertain.
Avoid discussing your own or other people's domestic concerns.
Never prompt a slow speaker, as if you had all the ability. In conversing with a foreigner who may be learning our language, it is excusable to help him in some delicate way.
Never give advice unasked.
Do not manifest impatience.
Do not interrupt another when speaking.
Do not find fault, though you may gently criticise.
Do not appear to notice inaccuracies of speech in others.
Do not always commence a conversation by allusion to the weather.
Do not, when narrating an incident, continually say, "you see," "you know."
Do not allow yourself to lose temper or speak excitedly.
Do not introduce professional or other topics that the company generally cannot take an interest in.
Do not talk very loud. A firm, clear, distinct, yet mild, gentle, and musical voice has great power.
Do not be absent-minded, requiring the speaker to repeat what has been said that you may understand.
Do not try to force yourself into the confidence of others.
Do not use profanity, vulgar terms, words of double meaning, or language that will bring the blush to anyone.
Do not allow yourself to speak ill of the absent one if it can be avoided. The day may come when some friend will be needed to defend you in your absence.
Do not speak with contempt and ridicule of a locality which you may be visiting. Find something to truthfully praise and commend; thus make yourself agreeable.
Do not make a pretense of gentility, nor parade the fact that you are a descendant of any notable family. You must pass for just what you are, and must stand on your own merit.
Do not contradict. In making a correction say, "I beg your pardon, but I had the impression that it was so and so." Be careful in contradicting, as you may be wrong yourself.
Do not be unduly familiar; you will merit contempt if you are. Neither should you be dogmatic in your assertions, arrogating to yourself such consequences in your opinions.
Do not be too lavish in your praise of various members of your own family when speaking to strangers; the person to whom you are speaking may know some faults that you do not.
Do not feel it incumbent upon yourself to carry your point in conversation. Should the person with whom you are conversing feel the same, your talk may lead into violent argument.
Do not try to pry into the private affairs of others by asking what their profits are, what things cost, whether Melissa ever had a beau, and why Amarette never got married? All such questions are extremely impertinent and are likely to meet with rebuke.
Do not whisper in company; do not engage in private conversation; do not speak a foreign language which the general company present may not understand, unless it is understood that the foreigner is unable to speak your own language.