Conversation implies verbal interaction between two individuals; quite often not known to each other earlier. There may be no purpose of conversation or it may be for pleasure or may be for whiling away time or even for taking it as an opportunity for furthering personal or business interests.
Conversation takes place mostly while travelling or waiting. During travel by air or by road it may take place between co-passengers and while waiting, may be at airport or hotel or conference venue, or for an appointment with a doctor, consultant or senior government official etc.
The art of conversation can be cultivated, first, by observing the behaviour i.e. approach, style and content, of good conversationalists and later through practice.
It is a prerequisite to be enthusiastic if one wants to learn the art of conversation. It requires study of human behaviour, patient listening and knowing when to start and when to stop during the conversation.
Before initiating or opening a dialogue one should observe the gestures, postures, behaviour and what exactly the other person is doing. The other person may be reading a newspaper or a magazine or watching television or may be busy on telephone all the time or may be this individual is also looking around for some one to talk with. The period of observation could be keeping in mind the time which both the individuals are likely to spend at the same place. For example during air travel the likely time to be spent as co-passenger may vary from one to four hours and some times more in international flights, in train travel it may be more than four hours and in waiting room of a clinic it may be fifteen minutes to an hour.
Having observed one or more such persons around, decide with whom and how to open the conversation. This will depend obviously on the personality of the person observed, one’s observations, physical distance between two individuals at that point of time (for example in airplane one can not converse with a person seated five rows behind) and the expected, based on one’s assessment, response from the other person.
Most difficult and testing part of a conversation is its opening. Easiest topics for opening the dialogue could be current affairs. But that may not be always necessary. Current affairs could be relating to politics or sports or any other flash news. One should look at the age and gender of the other person before deciding on the topic. For example it is easiest to talk about the latest mobile apps for smart phones to a teenager or a youngster, latest games on mobile phone to kids, helping out a lady or an old man in handling their electronic gadget like I pad or smart phone. In air travel, say by business class, one could initiate the talk on economy or some thing from National Geographic or Time magazine etc. The opening of a dialogue could be with a query, which is most common. Quite often one tests the water by asking questions relating to destination, if travelling or enquiring about the locality in which the other person stays etc. The response to such questions helps to decide the speed and style of further communication. With a lady, easier course could be to open the dialogue by guarded admiration of may be her dress, the make up or personal accessories like watch or purse or jewelry. One has to be careful in terms of the age difference between the two parties getting into conversation. Conversation can begin with introducing one self and offering a business card if the situation so demands. This is more likely with seasoned conversationalists.
It is rare but one should be ready for a rebuff from the other side.
The beauty of the conversation lies in taking the conversation to higher levels, consistently, possibly resulting into friendship or new relationships. This requires probing and grasping the interest of the other person and keeping the conversation on track to sustain the interest of the other person in the interaction. Interruptions of any kind provide opportunity for changing the topic. One should also learn to change the topic quickly where one does not have interest or knowledge. Boasting of self will bring the conversation to a quick close.
Proof of good conversation is that it ends only when the parting time comes. Conversation should normally end with niceties like exchange of visiting cards or shaking hands or saying bye. It is at this point of time that both the parties decide to continue or not to continue the relationship in future. These days it may simply end up by on – the – spot exchange of friend request on Face Book etc. Professionals may catch up with and get connected on linkedin, blogger and twitter etc.
Conversation can be developed as an art for personal pleasure and advancement by being enthusiastic, by being a careful observer and through practice.
It can bring about unexpected windfalls at times.