Let’s talk about polite conversation for moment, shall we?
After surviving a difficult holiday, where, no doubt, you had at least some friction with someone about a closely held political belief of some kind that the other fat-head didn’t, I think manners and conversation might be an appropriate topic. It’s bee a tense year and a difficult election season and, let’s face it, a lot of us are pretty unhappy, even if your chosen candidate won. (Mine didn’t, by the way. I just want to make it clear that I didn’t vote for what’s about to happen to us for four years, in case anyone was wondering.) But, it’s the holidays, which means parties. Often, it means parties with someone who might drink too much and lose those inhibitions that actually kind of keep the fabric of society from unraveling. Also, it may mean office parties where the wrong kind of verbal slip might cost you a job, or even a career. It happens.
Here are some suggestions that might save you from making a complete ass of yourself, whatever the festive occasion:
“1. Even if convinced that your opponent is utterly wrong, yield gracefully, decline further discussion, or dexterously turn the conversation, but do not obstinately defend your own opinion until you become angry…Many there are who, giving their opinion, not as an opinion but as a law, will defend their position by such phrases, as: “Well, if I were president, or governor, I would,” — and while by the warmth of their argument they prove that they are utterly unable to govern their own temper, they will endeavor to persuade you that they are perfectly competent to take charge of the government of the nation.”
“9. A man of real intelligence and cultivated mind is generally modest. He may feel when in everyday society, that in intellectual acquirements he is above those around him; but he will not seek to make his companions feel their inferiority, nor try to display this advantage over them. He will discuss with frank simplicity the topics started by others, and endeavor to avoid starting such as they will not feel inclined to discuss. All that he says will be marked by politeness and deference to the feelings and opinions of others.”
“17. The wittiest man becomes tedious and ill-bred when he endeavors to engross entirely the attention of the company in which he should take a more modest part.”
“30. If you find you are becoming angry in a conversation, either turn to another subject or keep silence. You may utter, in the heat of passion, words which you would never use in a calmer moment, and which you would bitterly repent when they were once said.”
To read the rest of the helpful, and time-tested, suggestions, follow the link to 38 Vintage Conversation Rules at The Art of Manliness. And, ladies, don’t be shy! I believe in equal opportunity, so those suggestions might help you, too. We live in a liberated age when women can be just as terrible and boorish as men!
Read, enjoy, and, hopefully, learn, regardless of your gender.
This post originally appeared at Use Your Words.