The Art of Conversation

by Jon Lebkowsky

John McDermott at Financial Times writes “How to have a conversation”:

What makes a good conversationalist has changed little over the years. The basics remain the same as when Cicero became the first scholar to write down some rules, which were summarised in 2006 by The Economist: “Speak clearly; speak easily but not too much, especially when others want their turn; do not interrupt; be courteous; deal seriously with serious matters and gracefully with lighter ones; never criticise people behind their backs; stick to subjects of general interest; do not talk about yourself; and, above all, never lose your temper.” But Cicero was lucky: he never went on a first date with someone more interested in their iPhone than his company.

Reading that, I realize I suck as a conversationalist (but wait, I shouldn’t talk about myself…) A commitment to learn and act on those principles is in order… online and off.

Later in the article, McDermott mentions “the ‘six ways to have a better conversation.’ These, according to the school, are: 1. Be curious about others; 2. Take off your mask; 3. Empathise with others; 4. Get behind the job title; 5. Use adventurous openings; 6. Have courage.”

If you take off your mask, will you disappear?

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