In private conversation between intimate friends the wisest men very often talk like the weakest; for, indeed, the talking with a friend is nothing else but thinking aloud.
One would think that the larger the company is, the greater variety of thoughts and subjects would be started in discourse; but instead of this, we find that conversation is never so much straitened and confined as in large assemblies.
The art of conversation consists as much in listening politely, as in talking agreeably.
My observation is that, generally speaking, poverty of speech is the outward evidence of poverty of mind.
For good or ill, your conversation is your advertisement. Every time you open your mouth you let men look into your mind. Do they see it well clothed, neat, businesslike?
Good talk is like good scenery—continuous, yet constantly varying, and full of the charm of novelty and surprise.
There's lots of people—this town wouldn't hold them; who don't know much excepting what's told them.
I don't like to talk much with people who always agree with me. It is amusing to coquette with an echo for a little while, but one soon tires of it.
In company it is a very great fault to be more forward in setting off one's self, and talking to show one's parts, than to learn the worth, and be truly acquainted with the abilities of men.—He that makes it his business not to know, but to be known, is like a foolish tradesman, who makes all the haste he can to sell off his old stock, but takes no thought of laying in any new.
Never hold any one by the button, or the hand, in order to be heard out; for if people are unwilling to hear you, you had better hold your tongue than them.
To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation.
A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month's study of books.
On their own merits modest men are dumb.
When in the company of sensible men, we ought to be doubly cautious of talking too much, lest we lose two good things—their good opinion and our own improvement; for what we have to say we know, but what they have to say we know not.
Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for competitors.
Conversation is the laboratory and workshop of the student.
Conversation warms the mind, enlivens the imagination, and is continually starting fresh game that is immediately pursued and taken, which would never have occurred in the driller intercourse of epistolary correspondence.
We sometimes disputed, and very fond we were of argument, and very desirous of confuting one another, which is apt to become a very bad habit. I had caught it by reading my father's books of dispute about religion. Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Edinburgh.
Were we to talk less about the problems which faced us, and thought more about facing those problems, the evasive corner which obscured prosperity would certainly be more accessible.
Our companions please us less from the charms we find in their conversation, than from those they find in ours.
Repose is as necessary in conversation as in a picture.
Silence is one great art of conversation.
He kept up with the current literature, and distilled from it a polite essence, with which he knew how to perfume his conversation.
Speak well of every one if you speak of them at all—none of us are so very good.
Patrick Henry was more impressed by Washington's quiet conversation than by the fervid oratory of others. When asked whom he considered the greatest man in Congress, he answered: "Rutledge, if you speak of eloquence, is by far the greatest orator, but Colonel Washington, who has no pretensions to eloquence, is a man of more solid judgment and information than any man on that floor."
Among well-bred people, a mutual deference is affected; contempt of others disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation is maintained, without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority.
It is not necessary to be garrulous in order to be entertaining.—To be a judicious and sympathetic listener will go far toward making you an agreeable companion, self-forgetful, self-possessed, but not selfish enough to monopolize the conversation.
Next to family affection, health, and the love of work, does anything contribute so much to the pleasantness of life, restoring and raising our self-esteem, as the traffic in kind speeches?
He who sedulously attends, pointedly asks, calmly speaks, coolly answers, and ceases when he has no more to say, is in possession of some of the best requisites of conversation.
There cannot be a greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse.
No one will ever shine in conversation who thinks of saying fine things; to please, one must say many things indifferent, and many very bad.
Conversation opens our views, and gives our faculties a more vigorous play; it puts us upon turning our notions on every side, and holds them up to a light that discovers those latent flaws which would probably have lain concealed in the gloom of unagitated abstraction.
It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.
The less men think, the more they talk.
It were endless to dispute upon everything that is disputable.
All bitter feelings are avoided, or at least greatly reduced by prompt, face-to-face discussion.
Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.
Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation, is, that each is thinking more of what he is intending to say, than of what others are saying; and we never listen when we are planning to speak.
As it is the characteristic of great wits to say much in few words, so it is of small wits to talk much, and say nothing.
The tone of good conversation is brilliant and natural.—It is neither tedious nor frivolous.—It is instructive without pedantry; gay, without tumultuousness; polished, without affectation; gallant, without insipidity; waggish, without equivocation.
Not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
The pith of conversation does not consist in exhibiting your own superior knowledge on matters of small importance, but in enlarging, improving, and correcting the information you possess, by the authority of others.
Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.
Be sincere. Be simple in words, manners and gestures. Amuse as well as instruct. If you can make a man laugh, you can make him think and make him like and believe you.
It is a secret known to but few, yet of no small use in the conduct of life, that when you fall into a man's conversation, the first thing you should consider, is, whether he has a greater inclination to hear you, or that you should hear him.
It is wonderful that so many shall entertain those with whom they converse by giving them the history of their pains and aches; and imagine such narrations their quota of the conversation. This is, of all other, the meanest help to discourse, and a man must not think at all, or think himself very insignifificant when he finds an account of his headache answered by another's asking what is the news in the last mail.
One of the best rules in conversation is, never to say a thing which any of the company can reasonably wish had been left unsaid.
Take as many half minutes as you can get, but never talk more than half a minute without pausing and giving others an opportunity to strike in.
The first ingredient in conversation is truth; the next, good sense; the third, good humor; and the fourth, wit.
In conversation, humor is more than wit, and easiness more than knowledge. Few desire to learn, or think they need it.—All desire to be pleased, or at least to be easy.