The ethics of conversation

For those who want to be heard sweetly



I dedicate this write up to all those friends who, on account of their irritating manners of conversation, have favored me with some thoughts and thus obliged me to speak about the ethics of conversation. Although this ethics might sound as an individual’s self- perceived one, nevertheless, some readers hopefully shall agree with these thoughts. I shall also have to acknowledge my indebtedness to all those authors from whose writings I learnt quite a few good things about a good conduct during conversation and actually tried to imbibe them as per my modest capacity.
  Somewhere I have read about the physical elements, as I would name them, which make a speaker boring and unpleasant for his listeners. Thanks to the writer from whom I have learnt that while in conversation the speaker should never be ‘mouth to mouth close’ to his listener to facilitate a mutual smelling of the chemical processes of digestion as might be  happening inside their stomachs. That precaution is worth taking and, in fact, must be taken even if the speaker is enough sure that he is not suffering from a bad breath.
 So boring it is to give your ear to what you might have already heard a thousand times. Worst it could be if the speaker might consciously be assuming that he is benefitting you by passing unto thee a virgin piece of information. Touching and sometimes actually striking the various body parts of one’s listeners serves as a discomforting irritant in most of the conversations. Some other speakers suffer from a self- imposed, and hence incurable, habit of striking their own body parts while in conversation with others. Such partners in conversation shall have only to be endured by the poor listeners.
Similarly all of us know that the wise men have always promoted the idea of being as low pitched as might suffice the listener. To unnecessarily talk in a loud voice has never been appreciated. Being precise is the ornament of any conversation. Precession in one’s discourse is considered not only an art but also as a gift of God. Muslims, for example, have been taught as a principal of their faith that the best talk is one that is precise and meaningful. Along with this emphasis on brevity Islam also recommends silence as the key to salvation whenever silence is affordable and desirable. This essentially should encourage us to avoid too much of talking when- so- ever we sit down to converse with others. Being a good listener is another great virtue and remaining silent while someone else is already speaking is a definite proof of one’s accommodative and tolerant faculties.. We must learn to hold back and thus pity a poor listener whose ears are already occupied by some other speaker. It will qualify for an appreciable trait of a humane conversation.
There are some more important aspects to the ethics of conversation. It is a universally accepted norm that lying is disdainful and straight forward lying and falsehood in our mutual discourses, therefore, cannot be over emphasized. Let us, instead, focus on a different aspect involving some Mr. Know All friend. The listener encounters a lot of discomfort if he has to listen to a Mr. Know All speaker who never bothers to acknowledge that he was telling a particular thing on the evidence of having heard it from someone else or on the basis of having read about that from some book. He always tries to make his listener believe that whatever floral discourse, information, jokes and poetry his tongue is broadcasting are his very personal possessions.  Deliberately avoiding references is quite unethical and ungrateful.
Some speakers also never use phrases like “I believe”, “I guess”, “I think”, etc. during their discourse with others. They go on talking in diction as if whatever is coming out via their vocal chords is the ultimate universal truth. They seem to be foolishly keeping no margin for corrections. It is just like one companion authentically introducing to the other one an alien territory after their straying into wilderness.
By avoiding the usage of phrases like ‘I think’ and ‘I guess’ etc. the conversant unprofitably expends his energy in the misconception of having established his knowledgeably in the minds of his listeners. To the query as to how does he say what he was saying with that authenticity he will irritate you more by adding that ‘because he was telling you that’.  Such speakers are the citizens of the fool’s paradise and potentially dangerous for expanding misinformation and falsehood.

(The author is Principal GDC Boys Anantnag and can be reached at

Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 17 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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