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Being With You:
It’s Great If You Have…
  • A sincere desire to please others. A faked, hypocritical interest in others, on the other hand, sounds sycophantic and insincere.
  • A good sense of humor. This quality is a saving grace in any conversation, and people who can laugh at themselves without putting themselves down are real winners.
  • An imagination that can bring life to the dullest of topics.
  • Self-restraint. A good conversationalist refrains from beginning all conversations with “I”.  A good conversationalist initiates topics by turning interested in the others present.
  • A good self-image combined with appropriate modesty. He or she plays down rather than broadcasts his or her expertise in certain fields, thus allowing others to discover it by themselves.
  • A willingness to allow others to pre-empt the choice of topic, especially if he or she knows someone else feels strongly about a particular subject. A good conversationalist will address any subject jointly with others, including one in which he alone clearly is the expert.  He is like a good athlete who will play sports with others who are not in his class; he plays with them for the sake of the group.
  • A positive attitude. The interesting person does not hold people’s attention by using a negative, accusatory style of speaking.  Anyone can hold the center of the stage by denouncing, attacking, or spreading malicious gossip about someone who is not present.
  • A sense of when and how to change the subject, such as when a topic has no more life, is too controversial, or is offensive to someone in the group.
  • Respect for the other person’s right to privacy. This means refraining from discussing an important person’s specialty with him in any intrusive manner.  At a social event, the head of a corporation doesn’t want to be challenged on his business decisions; a basketball player doesn’t want to be questioned about all the plays in the last big game; an actor does not wish to hear a lengthy critique of last night’s performance.  People who are stars in their various fields should be allowed to take time off from their specialty when in a social milieu.
  • An aversion to the use of foul language and sacrilegious exclamations. A person using coarse expletives in polite conversation shows a total lack of class and makes everyone around uncomfortable.  No matter how much you may hear these words in street talk and in public today, they are not words connoting strength, courage, and success.  They are words used by those who don’t know how to express in any other manner their wish to sound powerful

Excerpted from Letitia Baldridge’s Complete Guide To A Great Social Life.

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