Reverie Fair Magazine Winter 2016 - Page 35

Topics to avoid would be problems you’re having, daily routines, family history or anything that leads to a litany of complaints or a rant. Prepare for conversations as you go through your day by keeping abreast of local, regional and world news.

Other areas to keep in mind are literature, television, music, and technology. For instance, what new books have come out recently? What albums have been newly released? What are some of the most popular shows on television? Have you watched them? What is your taste in music? Have you listened to other genres? Someone with knowledge across a broad range of categories is what most think of as a well-rounded person.

A few more quick tips from Hereford: strive for a balance of give and take; be an active listener; maintain good eye contact; don’t interrupt; keep an open mind; and try to avoid topics such as sex, religion and politics, as they often end up in an argument.

Whichever area is chosen for conversation, be authentic and honest. If you don’t know a lot about a subject, admit it and change to one where you do have some expertise. Faking it is not only obvious, but it often ends in rejection or ridicule.

In his book, Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette and Guide to True Politeness, published in 1866, author Arthur Martine could have summed up modern writers’ advice when he wrote, “Cheerfulness, unaffected cheerfulness, a sincere desire to please and be pleased, unchecked by any efforts to shine, are the qualities you must bring with you into society, if you wish to succeed in conversation. … a light and airy equanimity of temper,—that spirit which never rises to boisterousness, and never sinks to immovable dullness; that moves gracefully from ‘grave to gay, from serious to serene,’ and by mere manner gives proof of a feeling heart and generous mind.”

Reacquainting Ourselves with Conversation

According to Larry Alton, writing for, “The art of conversation is a necessary skill for almost everything in life. Conversations introduce you to people, important people who could be your mentors, employers, employees, partners or friends. Without conversations as the foundation for those relationships, you’ll have a hard time building a social circle, starting a business or advancing your career.”

To not only get, but also keep, conversation moving along smoothly, Alton suggests following six simple rules: Lead with a compliment about the other person, embrace small talk as it will lead to deeper conversation, ask lots of questions, be nice, let the other person do the talking, and keep it light.

“While there is more to having good conversation skills than being a comedian, dramatic actor, or a great story teller, it is not necessary to become gregarious, animated, or outgoing. Instead, develop the ability to listen attentively, ask fitting questions, and pay attention to the answers - all qualities essential to the art of conversation. With diligent practice and several good pointers, anyone can improve their conversation skills,” wrote Z. Hereford for

Reverie Fair / Winter 2016 35