Help Preserve the Dying Art of Making Conversation

Tomorrow night I will be delivering a speech called “The Art of Making Conversation.” If you have time and are interested, please feel free to join us at the Lord Selkirk Toastmasters Club. We meet in Selkirk on Wednesdays at 7 pm.

Making conversation seems to be a dying art. How many times have you been on a bus or a plane when the person next to you has ipod buds stuck in their ears? To me, that closes the opportunity to make conversation and learn something interesting about a new person.
Perhaps you have difficulty making conversation with a new person? To help you develop as a great conversationalist, you must first understand the different levels of communication.
The Art of Conversation is an interesting book.

The Art of Conversation is an interesting book.

According to my reference book, “The Art of Conversation,”level one is called ‘small talk.’ In this stage of conversation, you simply exchange pleasantries such as your opinion of the weather, your immediate surroundings and possibly your first name. This creates a non-committal environment into which to dip your toes and see if you’d really like to go for a symbolic swim.
The next level of conversation is referred to as ‘fact disclosure’ during which you will tell the other person some facts about you, and hopefully, they will reciprocate.
Now that you’ve established a greater comfort level with the individual, you may then wish to move on to stage three — ‘viewpoints and opinions’ during which you and your partner will exchange personal views about various issues.
Assuming the conversation is going well, you will feel comfortable enough to engage in the fourth level of conversation — ‘personal feelings’ in which you disclose your personal thoughts and feelings about any given issue.
The thing to remember is that everyone progresses at a different stage, and some people may never feel comfortable engaging in stage four conversation with anyone other than their closest circle of friends. Others, like me, are always ready to engage in conversation at any level. You can tell that by the fact that I am writing this blog and sharing many details about myself with an unknown audience.
But then … I’ve always been a talker! Even as a young child in school, it was determined that I like to talk a lot. Fortunately, as an adult, I have also mastered the art of listening. A good skill to have as a journalist.
If you’d like to better your skills at listening and conversing, become a Toastmaster and take an active part in the program.  You will be a better person for it.
For more about the Toastmasters program, visit Toastmasters International site at:

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

3 Responses

  1. bob says:

    You should read up on, Where there are methods jump straight into viewpoints and then jump directly into feelings. This is by shaking hands and making pleasentries, and ask an open ended question to the other person that requires them to talk about feelings.

    Force the person to respond by looking like you are really interested, and look at them silently, like you are expecting an answer. Reward them for a thought out answer by appreciating a quality they revealed. Then tell a story relevent in which you tell the other person how you personally feel about it, and then expect them to reciprocate. This way you are immediately jumping to the highest levels of conversation by making the other person comfortable.

    Body language is key too!

  2. wizardofwords says:

    Interesting question, Virginia! And one that I believe is answered in the book, “The Art of Conversation” by Catherine Blyth. I intend to get a copy and see what she has to say.

    Thanks for joining the blog,

  3. Virginia says:

    Lots of great tips on how to have a conversation, Doreen, but what about tips on how to politely squirm out once you’ve started them?

    An 8-hour plane ride can be debilitating if you are seated beside one of the bores among our midst.

    Or maybe in every bore lies an exciting personality that is just waiting to be sparked by the right conversation?

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