Making conversation (quotes)


Conversation is a mutual exchange


Conversation is an informal exchange of thoughts, feelings and ideas between people 

  • Conversation: A talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged. Oxford Dictionary
  • Conversation: An informal talk involving two people or a small group of people: the act of talking in an informal way. Merriam Webster
  • Conversation: A talk between two or more people in which thoughts, feelings, and ideas are expressed, questions are asked and answered, or news and information is exchanged. Cambridge Dictionary
  • CommunicationListeningLanguageOpennessGossipShyness

Conversation is an art and a valuable skill


Conversation is an art that can be learned … 

  • What is it? A Mystery! It’s the art of never seeming bored, of touching everything with interest, of pleasing with trifles, of being fascinating with nothing at all. How do we define this lively darting about with words, of hitting them back and forth, this sort of brief smile of ideas which should be conversation? Guy de Maupassant
  • Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for his competitors, for it is that which all are practicing every day while they live. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Conversation … is the art of never appearing a bore, of knowing how to say everything interestingly, to entertain with no matter what, to be charming with nothing at all. Guy de Maupassant
  • ArtSkill

… and like any art, good conversation requires practice 

  • To improve, practice and then practice some more. The art of conversation, like any skill, takes practice. Do not expect to be adept after your first few attempts. It will take practice as well as exposure to many different social situations. Zorka Hereford
  • Practice

Being an excellent conversationalist is a valuable skill to have

  • The ability to engage in interesting conversation is one of the greatest personal assets a man or woman can have. It is a great aid to business and social success and also makes for greater enjoyment of the company of other persons. The World Book Encyclopedia

The rewards of good conversation


Good conversation is stimulating and fun 

  • The most fruitful and natural exercise for our minds is, in my opinion, conversation. Michel de Montaigne
  • As far as playing jazz, no other art form, other than conversation, can give the satisfaction of spontaneous interaction. Stan Getz
  • Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after. Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • For let me tell you, that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation. Plato
  • Conversation is a sort of electricity that causes sparks to fly, and that relieves some people of the burden of their excess vivacity and awakens others from a state of painful apathy. Mme de Staël
  • Fun

Conversation is an essential vehicle for open communication 

  • Anger, loathing, spite, nasty looks, suspicion, jealously and hate stem from lack of communication with the person the feelings are directed. Eye to eye, face to face calm conversations are a start . Empathy is the way to a peaceful heart, soul and mind. K Hobgood
  • CommunicationOpenness

Conversation is important for healthy relationships 

  • Before you part in the morning, find one thing that each of you is going to do that day. When you meet again in the evening, have a “reunion conversation” in a low stress setting and listen.   Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Create a media-free zone in your house and reserve it for conversations. Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Sex is a conversation carried out by other means. If you get on well out of bed, half the problems of bed are solved. Peter Ustinov
  • Conversation is an essential element in virtually every relationship we have. To a great extent, the quality of our relationships depends on our ability to converse verbally. Dr. Bruce Gladstone
  • Principles for healthy relationships

Conversation creates connection and bonds 

  • Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation, and conversation. Oscar Wilde
  • Love without conversation is impossible. Mortimer Adler
  • My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company. Jane Austen
  • Connection

Conversation is exercise for the mind 


Conversation can impart great wisdom 

  • A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books. Chinese Proverb
  • A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. Chinese Proverb
  • Wisdom

Conversation can open you to new ideas and view-points … 

  • I see the same sadness in the eyes of conformists as I do in the eyes of those convulsing radically in opposition. I talk to people that aren’t like me, individually, thoughtfully. And I listen. If I walk away from a conversation thinking differently than before I entered into it, I have succeeded in doing something that doesn’t compute. If I haven’t interacted and challenged what I know, resulting in a change of perception, I am still running my own set of stupid old programs. Paul J. Schrag
  • Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them and engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.  Theodore Zeldin
  • IdeasOpen-mindednessExplore new ideas

… especially if you search out and converse openly with people who think differently to you 

  • It’s a fact—everyone is ignorant in some way or another. Ignorance is our deepest secret.  And it is one of the scariest things out there, because those of us who are most ignorant are also the ones who often don’t know it or don’t want to admit it.  Here is a quick test:  If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant. Before it is too late, go out there and find someone who, in your opinion, believes, assumes, or considers certain things very strongly and very differently from you, and just have a basic honest conversation.  It will do both of you good.  Vera Nazarian
  • In order to innovate and generate new ideas, we need to bring existing ideas in context with each other as much as possible. One of these best ways to do this is through conversation. Get people with different knowledge and experience together; expose people to new ideas, different arguments. Use these discussions to mix and match ideas and what new things emerge from the melting pot. Keith de la Rue

A good conversation can even have a life changing impact 

  • You never know when it is going to happen, when you will experience a moment that dramatically transforms your life. When you look back, often years later, you may see how a brief conversation or an insight you read somewhere, changed the entire course of your life. Gay Hendricks

Good conversations explores ideas


Conversation should be an exploration of meaningful ideas, not a verbal duel … 

  • In disputes upon moral or scientific points, ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery. James Burgh
  • The true spirit of conversation consists in building on another man’s observation, not overturning it. Edward G. Bulwer- Lytton
  • Argument is the worst sort of conversation. Jonathan Swift
  • A conversation should be a platform where opinions are aired, not a battle ground to pit one’s stance against another. Be ready to chat, discuss, and trash out ideas, but do so amiably. There’s no need to have a conclusion or agreement point in every discussion Celestine Chua
  • My God! The English language is a form of communication! Conversation isn’t just crossfire where you shoot and get shot at! Where you’ve got to duck for your life and aim to kill! Words aren’t only bombs and bullets — no, they’re little gifts, containing meanings! Philip Roth
  • ExplorationExplore new ideas

… or a chance to show off or practice one upmanship 

  • Ideal conversation must be an exchange of thought, and not, as many of those who worry most about their shortcomings believe, an eloquent exhibition of wit or oratory. Emily Post
  • Be an equal. Avoid giving advice or assuming a one-up or one-down position. Do your best to listen without a plan or an agenda. Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
  • Conversation is an art in which a man has all mankind for his competitors, for it is that which all are practicing every day while they live. Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • College parties are exhausting in a diametrically opposite way. They are full of smart, funny people who are all used to being the smartest, funniest person in the room, so they spend the whole party talking over one another, overlapping and overtaking the conversation to prove that they are the smartest, funniest person in the room, if not the entire planet. Megan McCafferty, Charmed Thirds

Get beneath the chit chat and explore deeper things 

  • If you explore beneath shyness or party chit-chat, you can sometimes turn a dull exchange into an intriguing one. I’ve found this to be particularly true in the case of professors or intellectuals, who are full of fascinating information, but need encouragement before they’ll divulge it. Joyce Carol Oates
  • Exploration

Good conversation asks questions and pays attention


Make your conversations a two-way dialogue … 

  • A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet. Truman Capote 
  • Two monologues do not make a dialogue. Jeff Daly
  • Listening

… not just alternate monologues … 

  • Most conversations are just alternate monologues. The question is, is there any real listening going on? Leo Buscaglia
  • Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness. Margaret Millar
  • There is no such thing as conversation. It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all. Rebecca West

Resist the impulse to talk too much 

  • The only reason why we ask other people how their weekend was is so we can tell them about our own weekend. Chuck Palahniuk
  • It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much. Yogi Berra
  • The primary use of conversation is to satisfy the impulse to talk. George Santayana
  • Talking always gets in the way of a good honest conversation. Greg Vovos

Good conversation is about speaking less and listening more … 

  • I no longer worry about being a brilliant conversationalist. I simply try to be a good listener. I notice that people who do that are usually welcome wherever they go. Frank Bettger
  • Most conversations are just alternate monologues. The question is, is there any real listening going on? Leo Buscaglia
  • The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard. William Hazlitt
  • Do you really listen? Or do you just wait for your turn to talk?
  • The art of conversation is the art of hearing as well as of being heard. William Hazlitt
  • Speak less and listen more. People love to speak about themselves. In social situations, be sure to ask others about their interests, work, opinions, etc. This will take the focus off of you. A side benefit of this approach is that you will invariably be viewed as a great conversationalist, even though you’ve said little or nothing! Maud Purcell
  • The art of conversation lies in listening. Malcolm S. Forbes
  • Listening

… listening instead of fixating on what you’re going to say next 

  • The reason why so few people are agreeable in conversation is that each is thinking more about what he intends to say than what others are saying. Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Be genuinely interested in your conversation partner 

  • Be genuinely interested in the person. Who is this person? What’s on his/her mind? What does he/she enjoy doing? What motivates him/her in life? Celestine Chua
  • You can make more friends in two months by being interested in other people than in two years of trying to get people interested in you. Dale Carnegie
  • Express an interest in what’s being said. This seems like an elementary statement, but, if you’re at all observant, you’ll notice that not everyone follows this good advice. Face the speaker with unfolded arms. Lean forward slightly. Make eye contact. Acknowledge statements with a nod, comment or question when appropriate. Patricia Fry
  • Show interest and be curious. People who are genuinely interested in others are usually interesting themselves. Why? Because they are more open to learning about and understanding new things. Showing interest also encourages the other person to be relaxed and share information more freely. Display attentiveness by keeping good eye contact and listening actively. Zorka Hereford 

Put all your attention on your conversation partner … 

  • Greet everyone you meet with a warm smile. No matter how busy you are, don’t rush encounters with co- workers, family and friends. Speak softly. Listen attentively. Act as if every conversation you have is the most important thing on your mind today. Look your children and your partner in the eyes when they talk to you. Stroke the cat, caress the dog. Lavish love on every living being you meet. See how different you feel at the end of the day. Sarah Ban Breathnach
  • AttentionAwareness

… and make direct eye contact 

  • Make eye contact. Looking directly at the other person is a courteous indication that you are listening. Patricia Fry
  • Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us. Regina Brett

Ask good questions that show you’re engaged 

  • One of the best ways to show engagement is by expressing a natural curiosity for what the other person is telling you. Make it a point to ask at least one question before moving on to the next topic. John Hall
  • There is no such thing as a worthless conversation, provided you know what to listen for. And questions are the breath of life for a conversation. James Nathan Miller
  • Ask open-ended questions to promote communication – that is, questions that require more than a yes or no response. Start questions with why, how or what. Patricia Fry
  • Ask purposeful questions. Questions elicit answers. The kind of questions you ask will steer the direction of the conversation. To have a meaningful conversation with the other person, ask meaningful questions. Celestine Chua
  • Great conversationalists listen more than talk. Zorka Hereford
  • If you’re stumped for a question, listen to what people ask you and then ask them the same thing in return. Margaret Shepherd
  • Manners are the ability to put someone else at their ease…by turning any answer into another question. Tina Brown
  • Questioning is not the mode of conversation among gentlemen. Samuel Johnson
  • Questions

Make the focus of the conversation more about the other person … 

  • Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours. Dale Carnegie
  • The great gift of conversation lies less in displaying it ourselves than in drawing it out of others. He who leaves your company pleased with himself and his own cleverness is perfectly well pleased with you. Jean de la Bruyere

… and less about you 

  • They never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation. Jerome K. Jerome
  • A gossip talks about others, a bore talks about himself – and a brilliant conversationalist talks about you.
  • An egotist is someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
  • Scherwitz taped the conversations of nearly six hundred men. He found that the more a man habitually talked about himself, the greater the chance he would actually have a heart attack. John Robbins
  • Vanity has many outlets in conversation, but great I is the front door. John Thornton
  • Conceit causes more conversation than wit. Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Don’t be a conversation stealer 

  • Conversation stealers are people who jump in on your story to change the focus to themselves or to something that they know more about. If you frequently steal the show in conversations, take steps to change this bad habit. How? When you’re talking with someone, try focusing your attention on them more. This is not to say that you shouldn’t tell your story. Of course, you can relate your experiences or thoughts. Just make sure that you also hear the other person’s saga and that you acknowledge it before sharing yours. Patricia Fry

Be present and intentional 

  • Before engaging in a conversation, consciously decide to be present and open for it. This can be as simple as taking a deep breath before opening the coffee-shop door and turning off your phone before sitting down. Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman
  • IntentionPresence

Hear what people are really saying as opposed to what they are telling you 

  • Conversations consist for the most part of things one does not say. Cees Nooteboom

Ensure there is a balance of give and take 

  • 50-50 sharing. I always think that a great conversation should be made up of equal sharing by both parties. Sometimes it may be 40-60 or 60-40 depending on the circumstances, but by and large, both parties should have equal opportunities to share and contribute to the conversation. Celestine Chua
  • Ensure there is a balance of give and take. A conversation can get boring quickly if one person is doing all the talking while the other is trying to get a word in edgewise. When that happens whoever is not talking begins to tune out and there is no conversation! Zorka Hereford
  • Know when to speak and when to listen. Conversation should be give and take. Each person involved in a conversation needs to speak and each needs to listen. Participate but don’t monopolize. Patricia Fry

Good conversation has something to say


Be interesting and have something to say … 

  • We think we are being interesting to others when we are being interesting to ourselves. Jack Gardner
  • Be interesting and have something to say. While you don’t have to be a comedian, entertainer, or brilliant raconteur, you do need to be interesting otherwise what would you say? If you are not well informed, tend not to read much, or have very few interests, you will have very little to talk about except yourself. Become knowledgeable about world events, people in the news, or what’s going on locally. Take time to keep up with the latest music, new technological discoveries, or recent best sellers. Zorka Hereford 

… by living an interesting life rich in experiences … 

  • Be prepared. A good conversationalist engages his/her listeners and stimulates conversation. Hone your conversational skills by keeping up with trends and current events. Live an interesting life. Try new things so you’ll have something to talk about. Accept unusual invitations. See controversial plays. Do volunteer work. Begin a new hobby. Travel. Go back to school. Read. Change jobs or professions. Patricia Fry
  • Keep track of new and interesting experiences. What have you recently enjoyed? A trip to a space museum? Thai food? Your first opera? Fly-fishing? New (and attention-getting) experiences will always provide fodder for stimulating conversation. Maud Purcell
  • Embrace new experiences

… and by keeping abreast of current issues and topics 

  • Brush up on current events. Even with limited time, you can have a cursory knowledge of what’s happening in the world. Subscribe to a weekly news magazine or at least skim the headlines of a daily paper. You can even catch the news online these days! You don’t have to be an expert in order to casually refer to something that is newsworthy. Maud Purcell
  • It is important to keep abreast of key current issues and topics in the news, entertainment, sports and politics. You should be ready to comment with questions, ideas, facts and opinions on the issues that other people are interested in. So see a few of the latest movies, read some of the most popular fiction and non-fiction, read the newspapers, watch the news, keep up with some major sports stories and watch some TV – but not too much. Paul Sloane

Nothing cramps conversation like complete ignorance 

  • There are many who talk on from ignorance rather than from knowledge, and who find the former an inexhaustible fund of conversation. William Hazlitt
  • Your ignorance cramps my conversation. Anthony Hope
  • It’s no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,’ she muttered. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights
  • Ignorance

Good conversation flows naturally


Relax into the conversation and allow it to flow naturally 

  • It is all right to hold a conversation but you should let go of it now and then. Richard Armour
  • Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation. Mark Twain

While good conversation is about flow … 

  • Conversation should be like juggling; up go the balls and plates, up and over, in and out, good solid objects that glitter in the footlights and fall with a bang if you miss them. Evelyn Waugh
  • Galinda didn’t often stop to consider whether she believed in what she said or not; the whole point of conversations was flow. Gregory Maguire

… also allow some silences and pauses in your conversation 

  • Silence is one great art of conversation. William Hazlitt
  • Silence is one of the great arts of conversation. Marcus Tullius Cicero
  • Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts. Margaret Lee Runbeck
  • The most significant conversations of our lives occur in silence. Simon Van Booy
  • I am annoyed by individuals who are embarrassed by pauses in a conversation. To me, every conversational pause refreshes.  George Sanders
  • There is something hugely civilised about allowing long pauses in a conversation. Very few people can stand that kind of silence. James Robertson
  • SilenceStillness

Good conversation is authentic and honest


Be truly yourself … 

  • Be true to yourself. Your best asset is your true personality. Embrace it and let it shine. Don’t cover it up. It’ll be pretty boring if all you do is mime the other person’s words during a conversation; there wouldn’t be anything to discuss at all. Be ready to share your real thoughts and opinions. Be proud of what you stand for and be ready to let others know the real you. Celestine Chua
  • Be who you are

… and be authentic in your reactions to what you hear 

  • Be your own person. Instead of getting preoccupied with how you should respond, be authentic with your emotional reactions to what the other person is saying. Get in touch with how you’re really feeling, and your conversational partner will understand you, too. Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

Make your conversation direct and honest 

  • Today I will communicate clearly and directly in my conversations with others. I will strive to avoid manipulative, indirect, or guilt- producing statements. I can be tactful and gentle, or assertive if necessary. I do what is right in the moment. Melody Beattie
  • Honesty

Good conversation is respectful and affirming


Respect your conversation partner instead of imposing, criticizing, or judging 

  • Respect other people’s point of view. It’s fine to express your opinion, but don’t forcefully enforce it on them. Respect other people’s space—don’t encroach on the person’s privacy unless a common bond has been established. Respect other people’s personal choices—don’t criticize or judge. To do otherwise in each instance would be to impose yourself onto others when it isn’t your place to do so. Remember, everyone has his/her right to be him/herself, just as you have the right to be yourself. Celestine Chua
  • RespectCriticism

Pay compliments whenever you sincerely can 

  • Compliments are a great way to reduce social distance, remove tension, and open someone up. They are especially appreciated in a society where emotional generosity isn’t commonplace. Celestine Chua
  • Give compliments. Remember to give compliments whenever you can, and do it sincerely because people will know if you are just trying to flatter them. Jody Fransch
  • Put the person in his/her best light. Always look for ways to make the person look good. Give credit where credit is due. Recognize talent where you see it. Drop compliments where appropriate. Allow the person to shine in his/her own light. A lot of people don’t recognize their personal prowess and it’s up to you to help them do that. Be their guide; be their conduit to love. Celestine Chua

Leave some things unsaid even if it’s tempting to say them 

  • The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. Dorothy Nevill
  • Even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut.
  • 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. Jonathan Swift

Good conversation focuses more on the positive


Focus more on positive topics … 

  • Never talk of impure things or events, not even to deplore them. Look, it’s a subject that sticks more than tar. Change the conversation, or if that’s not possible, continue, but speaking of the need and beauty of holy purity–a virtue of the men who know what their souls are worth. Josemaria Escriva
  • Be a bearer of good tidings. Keep your comments upbeat and enthusiastic. People are instinctively drawn to positive conversation. And notice how quickly they will excuse themselves if you begin discussing your current health problems! Maud Purcell
  • Focus on the positives. Go for the positive topics. Which means rather than talk about past grievances, opt for a discussion of future goals. Rather than talk about the coffee that spilled on your table this morning, talk about that movie you are looking forward to watch later in the evening. Celestine Chua
  • Positivity

… and less on negative topics and complaints 

  • A good conversation always involves a certain amount of complaining. I like to bond over mutual hatreds and petty grievances. Lisa Kleypas

Be prepared to oppose the conventional view but never be disagreeable about it 

  • When discussing serious topics be prepared to oppose the conventional view and to take a rather provocative stance – even just for the sake of doing so. This will lead to a more interesting conversation than if you just agree with what is said. Paul Sloane
  • The secret of success in conversation is to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.

Intersperse your conversation with good humour 

  • The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit. William Temple
  • Develop your sense of humor. Begin taking note of the things that make you laugh. Pay attention to what others find humorous. You don’t have to be particularly quick-witted or a great storyteller in order to make others laugh. In fact, some of the funniest (and safest) material is that which is self- deprecating. As a side benefit this approach lets your listener know that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Maud Purcell
  • Have a stock of funny stories. Do not force them into the conversation but have them ready when you get the cue or when there is a lull. Personal anecdotes relating to unusual experiences and misfortunes that befell you often go down well. Develop and practice some self-deprecating stories. Jokes, quotes and other people’s witty remarks can also be used sparingly and with acknowledgement. Paul Sloane
  • HumourLaughter

Good conversation focuses on interesting topics


If conversation flags, make use of these handy topics … 

  • Ask for help or advice. People love to help. Helping makes them feel important. Helping makes them feel like they are adding value to people’s lives. Helping puts them in an advisory role which hones the leader in them. Celestine Chua
  • If you ever have to support a flagging conversation, introduce the topic of eating. Leigh Hunt 
  • Conversation may be compared to a lyre with seven chords – philosophy, art, poetry, love, scandal, and the weather. Anna Jameson
  • We men are fascinated by the things we don’t really understand. It gives us something to think and talk about: like females, they drive us nuts. Criss Jami
  • You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food. Kurt Vonnegut
  • If you are ever at a loss to support a flagging conversation, introduce the subject of eating. Leigh Hunt

… but don’t harp on about the weather 

  • Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. Oscar Wilde
  • Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. Kin Hubbard

… or gossip too much about others 

  • Conversation between Adam and Eve must have been difficult at times because they had nobody to talk about. Agnes Repplier
  • If something uncharitable is said in your presence, either speak in favor of the absent, or withdraw, or, if possible, stop the conversation. John Vianney
  • Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue.

Know when to change the topic 

  • Know when to change the subject. Whether you initiated the conversation or not, change the subject when there appears to be nothing new to say or when others begin to fidget or act bored. Patricia Fry

More ingredients for good conversation


Speak with clarity and enthusiasm 

  • Say what you have to say with clarity and enthusiasm. Many people mumble their words, or rush through them or whisper so quietly that you have to strain to hear them. Good conversationalists are clear, articulate and easy to understand. They use interesting metaphors and visual images. Keep your sentences short and to the point. Don’t hog the floor. Paul Sloane
  • ClaritySimplicityEnthusiasm

Use the mirror technique in difficult conversations 

  • Try repeating the words that someone is saying to you. This mirroring technique can keep both the speaker and the listener ‘centered’ in a difficult conversation, especially when the attitude of the person doing the mirroring is to gain understanding of a different point of view. Clare Albright

With people you already know well, a change of venue can be a catalyst to a deeper exchange 

  • A change of venue can often be all it takes to spur a deeper exchange with someone familiar. Arrange for a meeting outside the office. Go to a restaurant that’s new to you and your partner, or take a walk on a new route. Novelty stimulates the production of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, which can help us loosen up and share more. Laine Bergeson

Here are some more ingredients of good conversation 

  • The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit. William Temple
  • Good nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty. Joseph Addison
  • Conversation should touch everything, but should concentrate itself on nothing. Oscar Wilde
  • Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood. William Shakespeare
  • Conversation would be vastly improved by the constant use of four simple words: I do not know. Andre Maurois

… and some more qualities of a good conversationalist 

  • You need be neither a rocket scientist nor a brain surgeon in order to participate in lively conversation. Being a good listener is half the battle. Having fresh information to share, and delivering it with a sense of humor, is the other half. Maud Purcell
  • A good conversationalist is not one who remembers what was said, but says what someone wants to remember. John Mason Brown
  • The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, to hear much; always to distrust our own reason, and sometimes that of our friends; never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as possibly we can; to hearken. Benjamin Franklin
  • Be attentive. Ask for elaboration. Share your reactions honestly. Demonstrate to the other person that you are actively participating in the conversation. Ori Brafman and  Rom Brafman

Final thoughts 


Life is a series of conversations 

  • Life is a matter of dealing with other people, in little matters and cataclysmic ones, and that means a series of conversations. Deborah Tannen
  • Each person’s life is lived as a series of conversations. Deborah Tannen

Marriage is one long conversation 

  • Marriage is those two thousand indistinguishable conversations, chatted over two thousand indistinguishable breakfasts, where intimacy turns like a slow wheel. How do you measure the worth of becoming that familiar to somebody—so utterly well-known and so thoroughly ever-present that you become an almost invisible necessity, like air? Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes. Robert Louis Stevenson
  • A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short. Andre Maurois
  • Marriage

Make time to disengage from conversation and spend time alone in silence 

  • I need to be alone. I need to ponder my shame and my despair in seclusion; I need the sunshine and the paving stones of the streets without companions, without conversation, face to face with myself, with only the music of my heart for company. Henry Miller
  • Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius. Edward Gibbon
  • It is all right to hold a conversation but you should let go of it now and then. Richard Armour
  • After a time, I found that I could almost listen to the silence, which had a dimension all of its own. I started to attend to its strange and beautiful texture, which of course, it was impossible to express in words. I discovered that I felt at home and alive in the silence, which compelled me to enter my interior world and around there. Without the distraction of constant conversation, the words on the page began to speak directly to my inner self. They were no long expressing ideas that were simply interesting intellectually, but were talking directly to my own yearning and perplexity. Karen Armstrong
  • We’re all torn between the desire for privacy and the fear of lonliness. We need each other and we need to get away from each other.  We need proximity and distance, conversation and silence.  We almost always get more of each than we want at any one time.  Andy Rooney
  • Solitude

Think of reading as a conversation with the author 

  • The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of past centuries. Descartes
  • A book is good company. It is full of conversation without loquacity. It comes to your longing with full instruction, but pursues you never. Henry Ward Beecher
  • Reading

Think of prayer as a conversation with God 

  • I have abandoned all particular forms of devotion, all prayer techniques. My only prayer practice is attention. I carry on a habitual, silent, and secret conversation with God that fills me with overwhelming joy. Brother Lawrence
  • Prayer is a friendly conversation with the One we know loves us. St Teresa of Avila
  • Renew every day your conversation with God: Do this even in preference to eating. Think more often of God than you breathe. Epictetus
  • Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation-and for me the most important part is listening to God’s replies. Frank C. Laubach
  • PrayerGod

Be willing to have uncomfortable conversations 

  • I believe that success can be measured in the number of uncomfortable conversations you’re willing to have. Timothy Ferriss

Nothing lubricates conversation like alcohol 

  • Whoever takes just plain ginger ale soon gets drowned out of the conversation. Kin Hubbard
  • Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy, always runs more smoothly when lubricated. Marquis de Sade

On a lighter note

  • A gossip talks about others, a bore talks about himself – and a brilliant conversationalist talks about you.
  • Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.
  • An egotist is someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.
  • Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed. Robert C. Gallagher
  • Beware of the conversationalist who adds “in other words; he is merely starting afresh.   Christopher Morley
  • Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative. Oscar Wilde
  • Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy, always runs more smoothly when lubricated. Marquis de Sade
  • Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. Kin Hubbard
  • I consider conversations with people to be mind exercises, but I don’t want to pull a muscle, so I stretch a lot. That’s why I’m constantly either rolling my eyes or yawning. Jarod Kintz
  • I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. George Bernard Shaw
  • If you catch me talking in my sleep, your conversation bored me. Jarod Kintz
  • If you talk about yourself he’ll think you’re boring; if you talk about others he’ll think you’re a gossip; if you talk about him he’ll think you’re a brilliant conversationalist. Linda Sunshine
  • It was hard to have a conversation with anyone; there were so many people talking. Yogi’ Berra
  • Kiss: A course of procedure cunningly devised for the mutual stoppage of conversation when words are superfluous. Oliver Herford
  • Marriage is one long conversation, chequered by disputes. Robert Louis Stevenson
  • No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation. Fran Lebowitz
  • No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does. Christopher Morley
  • Oh, I could spend my life having this conversation – look – please try to understand before one of us dies. John Cleese
  • Polite conversation is rarely either. Fran Lebowitz
  • She had lost the art of conversation, but not, unfortunately, the power of speech. George Bernard Shaw
  • She never lets ideas interrupt the easy flow of her conversation. Jean Webster
  • Talking always gets in the way of a good honest conversation. Greg Vovos
  • The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. Winston Churchill
  • The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment. Dorothy Nevill
  • Whoever takes just plain ginger ale soon gets drowned out of the conversation. Kin Hubbard
  • Your ignorance cramps my conversation. Bob Hope