Buliding up the conversation(part 7)

Fun and enjoyment in the conversation can be derived from a situation where all the person involved participate with equal ease and fellow-feeling. No person will wish to talk to one who is averse to listening. There are person of a shifting and restless nature who can think of nothing but their own ends and how to realize them. It is impossible to talk to them, let alone build up a conversation with them. Only a trained salesman can hold their attention with dexterity and glibness or gentleman-crook with the smoothness of his talk. But the art of conversation is a vanquished art before them. For sustaining conversation, the participants should lend their charm and give views in clear, unambiguous and interesting tones, so that others present lose their self-consciousness.


A Game


A party falls flat unless it is enlivened by games and jokes in which everybody joins. In like manner, a conversation will be colorless unless it has the participation of all persons who are present and who form the group. There is thus not much difference between a conversation and a game. It is a game that can be played between two, three or more persons. The more efficiently it is played, the more lively will the conversation be. The topic or topics in the hands of experts come alive. There are no delays, no halts, no doubtful gaps, no questioning frowns, but the topic is passed from hand to hand with the skill of a juggler manipulating his colored balls. Not only the same topic but also the change-over from topic is achieved with the same skill.


There are, of course, some essential qualities necessary. The first and foremost is to have the same standard of understanding and intelligence as that of the others in the group. It is only then that different members will be able to follow the trend of the talk as it moves along. They will also be able to bring out an answer or an addendum without any hesitation. It is smartness of the answer, given with the conviction of a person who knows what he is talking about, that makes a conversation enlightening, uplifting and memorable.


It is to be born in mind that the game of conversation is played not as an exhibition but for pleasure experienced by the talkers who are refreshed by the exercise of mind and intellect. What is more, one learns as well as teaches, without it being obvious. If the conversationalist has sufficient intelligence and is well informed about the events of the day and the world in general, he will seldom find any topic outside his ken. If one follows the ways of an intelligent child, one will soon find out that though tender in years, a child has the capacity to understand big and unknown things. This child or young person may be considered precious but the adults can learn a thing or two from him about the art of conversation. It is his unconscious receptiveness of mind that enables him to absorb new information. In adult life also, if we can keep our minds open and capable of receiving, we shall understand at once what is being said, no matter what the topic may be.


Participation


A conversation succeeds best when everyone in the group takes part with the same interest and dedication, with the same toleration and feeling. Indifference, disdain or vanity will mar the conversation. One should not be humble or feel hesitant to speak out in company. All members of the group must do their bit to establish an atmosphere of appreciation for all who are giving their views.


Participation does not mean monopolizing the field and appropriating for oneself the largest chunk of the conversation. It also does not mean that one should keep one’s mouth shut and merely smile or nod and not say what one feels like saying. Participation in conversation means an equal share of both.


If we regard conversation as a game, it follows naturally that the topic in question must be handled with care should be passed on with skill from one person to another. Let us take a class, for instance; can we say that the teacher is conversing with students? Certainly not. The teacher is fully acquainted with the topic and is only passing it on in the form a lesson to his pupils. But if in the middle of his teaching, he and his students talk of something which is only partially known to both the teacher and his pupils – and if the teacher permits the students to discuss the matter, it may said that a conversation is being held.


Participation does not; however mean that a person has to say so much and no more. Additions to a conversation will not, under these circumstances, mean merely the joining together of words. If a person repeats what has already been said in a different way, he is not really participating in the conversation in the true sense of the word. He is only repeating and doing no more. It certainly cannot be said that he is making a contribution of his own to the conversation.


The participant in a conversation must remember that he has to give new turns and twists to the conversation in progress. New angles are to be investigated, new criticisms made, new secrets unearthed and presented and new solutions suggested. Unless there is novelty in a conversation, it becomes dreary and dull – and hence cannot b said to have been successful. A conversation filled with boredom and ennui is a waste of time, and the participants gain nothing from it.


Give and Take


No game can be played without shots and counter shots. The same goes for a conversation. There is no conversation if there is only giving, just as there is no conversation if there is only receiving. All sides should be equally alive to the situation and should play their part actively. There are periods for listening, no doubt, but there should also be opportunities for self expression. If the case is otherwise, whatever name we may give such a discourse, it can hardly be regarded as conversation.


There are, again rules for giving and taking. A person cannot do justice to these if factors in this connection are not kept in mind. Giving and receiving will lose their significance if they are not done with consideration. Or may be worse! The exchange of words indicated should, firstly mean the assimilation of others views and secondly, the bringing out of an original expression or idea based on this assimilation.


Give and take under such conditions consists, firstly of understanding the opinions put forward by others, and saying something that will increase or further this understanding. If we maintain our own stand with fixed immovable views, our contribution to the conversation will be very poor indeed. But if we keep an open mind in our life and in dealings with people, it will be easier for us to understand others views. Extension and expansion of mind are essential ingredients and the only when the mind is neutral and open can we fully enjoy this game of conversation.


Co-operation


This is one of the greatest virtues of a conversationalist. If a person tries to force himself on anyone, he will only create disruption. Tolerance is, therefore to be practiced by the conversationalists. But this tolerance is meaningless where its value is not recognized or if others engaged in conversation treats it as subservience. Where there is no tolerance of other’s views, there can be no genuine conversation. It goes without saying that one cannot always agree with everyone but one can agree to disagree, this is the spirit and essence of tolerance and without it man would revert to his animal state when he makes use of instinct and not of intelligence.


To co-operate, one has to acquire the ability to respect other personalities and views. Each person’s opinion counts, otherwise democracy cannot exist, provided, of course, the person concerned are educated enough to grasp the subjects.


Co-operation, moreover, extends further. The creation of any atmosphere of fellow-feeling; mutual trust and respect it necessary to make everyone in the group lose or cast away self-consciousness, or forget. So, co-operation must be both active and passive. Active co-operation will manifest itself in helping to draw out other participants and persuading them to give their maximum to the conversation. In this sense, co-operation consist in setting the ‘game’ in mtion in such way that the ‘players’ are positioned to strike the ball, or whatever it is, to best advantage. It should not be forgotten, at the same time, that co-operation does not imply that the different members are to be dependent on one another in the matter of actual speech. It would not be conversation if one person just put words into others mouths. All-round individuality must be maintained. Co-operation among members should be of the kind that allows and encourages a person’s individually in both speech and manner.


Consistency


No incoherent words, burst of emotion, sentimental breakdowns or outbreaks, or gushing of words can be regarded as true conversation. In group a person has to speak with logic and consistency. He has to follow the trend of the walk assiduously and with intelligence. He has to add to his talk, enrich it, embellish it. Some people talk without purpose. They forget that when they have started something, others are paying attention to it with eager anticipation. Some climax, some pathos, some laughter should be the outcome of the opening that has been made. At least some lessons, moral or adage should be gleaned by the listeners. But to the great disappointment of all of them if the person talking simply stops midway at the frst diversion, the expectation of the others is unfulfilled and the whole shows fall to the ground. Every talker, therefore, has to develop the quality of the speaking with the purpose.


He should be aware of what he is talking about and not to speak merely for the sake of speaking. Unfortunately, ladies often develop this type of inconsequent conversation because they are used to drawing-room palaver, with frequent interruptions like new introductions, refreshments and so on and so forth. In parlour ‘small talk’, there are interruptions at each step. The point to remember here is that one cannot discuss ‘serious’ matters in such condition. It is not advisable to go into in-depth discussion at the first opportunity with a person sitting next to you. Rather, on should try high dialogue instead of concentrating on one person; one should be attentive as much as possible without ‘talking over a person’s head’.
 


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