Saturday 27 December 2014

Thought Picnic: Cultivating the art of conversation

Begin the talk
There are so many places I have been to, diverse and strange, all of which if the opportunity comes I will strike up a conversation starting with subjects from the mundane to the serious.
The English usually start with the weather and before you know it, the conversation wends and weaves, in and out, around and about anything, no preconception governs the direction and exchanges as the chat ebbs and flows.
On trains and on planes, I have had uncanny moments with people I could not have chosen to sit in proximity to me, the distance of randomness closed down by experiences intertwined into the fabric of the varied human story.
Converse to art
There are times I have resisted the self-absorption of social media distractions to interact, genuflect, and exercise a broader range of expression that comes with the physical presence of another human being who by interest or sense of adventure is doing the same as myself, it is a wonderful thing.
The art of conversation needs greater utility and honing, even conversation for the mere sake of it alone can be enriching and fulfilling bringing with it humour and mirth, knowledge and wisdom, insight and direction, advice and opportunity, there is really no telling what can result, but one cannot doubt its usefulness.
Do not fear
The worst that can happen is that some people will remain glum, but the tongue-tied are not necessarily dumb, they just need to be eased into a comfortable place to be engaged.
We must be careful that modernity and technology does not rob us of this experience as we bury our heads in concentrated engagement with devices and tools, completely oblivious of our surrounds to appreciate the beauty of nature, the natural and the native means of interaction amongst our nearest human neighbours.
Civility with awareness
In doing so, we begin to lose the ability to observe as our sense of awareness wanes giving way to less civilised and uncultured tendencies, like ignoring when we are being addressed, mindlessly walking in public places at risk of bumping into others or walking into the path of danger or even just the simple act of asking for directions.
We surely have not advanced in civilisation to lose the essential utility of civility. We need to give ourselves breaks from these distractions to enrich ourselves with useful sensory communication that comes from deploying the art of conversation as every opportunity we can find.
Start with the familiar, the common and the easy and that could well lead to the intricately complex. We are bundles of experiences too diverse to be constrained to silence, let us break the ice and talk.

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