What has traditionally been called ‘The Art of Conversation’ clearly has taken a generational downturn. But there is hope it will continue, and not just due to evolutionary history.
Both anecdotal and media report evidence have shown the dominating pervasiveness of communicating by device in the modern populace, most emphatically among those under age 30. I can attest to this personally, as we have twin sons in their twenties. Indeed we have adapted somewhat in contacting them, texting and emailing (and skyping at times).
However, sooner or later, and certainly inevitably, even the mobile device generation must talk directly to people. Especially this time of the year, many of us will roll up our mental sleeves as we prepare to interact with relatives and perhaps friends we do not see much otherwise. Another reality facing young people is the eventual need to earn an income. This means some degree of face-to-face conversation will ensue, be it with prospective employers, others who may partner to start a business, and so on. Even if launching a solo business, and even if it’s internet based, chances are personal discussions are bound to arise. If you travel anywhere, you’re going to be doing some talking and listening.
Therefore, while reduced personal interaction is an overhanging issue in aspects of our cultural development, the benefit of enhancing speaking and hearing skills remains strong.
An article in the December edition of ‘Toastmaster’ magazine brings home a number of tips to improve conversational aptitude. Key points identified are:
- Express interest in others, as it’s easier than getting others interested in you
- Ask thoughtful and open-ended questions, and be complementary
- Be an active listener and responder
- Be careful of getting into debates, and beware abrasive topics especially if passionate about them
- Keep yourself up to date on a variety of current events and issues
- Use tasteful humour
- Speak with and listen to others who communicate well
(If a word is spoken in the forest and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?)