The art of good conversation
Good conversation is an art form. There are many other "arts" beside the fab 7 that haven't yet been given the credit they deserve. Conversation is one of them...not saying anything - the art of silence and words unspoken would be another, but that is reserved for another post.
Good conversation is very difficult to master, therefore it is not a product for massive consumption and digestion, one of the main reasons for this being that it takes a certain amount of skill and yes...might we say it...talent...to keep up a good talk with one or two people for a period of time longer than..let's say...5 minutes. It's not just about the topics you choose, it's about getting people involved, getting them to listen and answer back, even a monologue that arrouses fascination, and is interrupted with just a casual interjection of utter amazement from time to time could still qualify as conversation in my book. It's as much about knowing or having an intuitive sense about the personality of your audience, knowing what tone to choose and what words to start with, what parts of the body to involve, beside the mouth (as kinky as that sounds)...as it is about knowing when to shut up, when to let the other person speak, when to let a clear breath of silence fall or when to keep the ball rolling so that everything won't fade out.
In my encounters with other cultures I have come to draw some, purely personal conclusions, perhaps, as well as guidelines when approaching conversation with someone of a different nationality. For example...an american - optimistic, easy to impress, will spice up the conversation with the occasional "really? I didn't know that!". Frequent users of the word "WOW", "Awsome" and "Bad ass" (which in fact is a good thing) they tent to drift off at a certain point in the conversation, elusively still showing interest in what you have to say. They are also seekers of the "Real thing"...so words like "Real" and "really" will stir up their interest , be it an issue of cheese or terrorists alike.
The French are silent- talkers. The French person will indulge you with the right to speak, but will look up and down at you in the meanwhile, measuring your every flaw without muttering a word. What is amazing in this process is that from all that careful observation they still have the power to make you feel like your speech is senseless. You will soon come to the end of your speech, spitting out some last chocked-up words like the fumes coming out of an worn-out motor bike.
The Italians are a riot...masters of conversation..they will pick a subject and pretend to be perfectly informed in all its regards. They will tediously, but meaninglessly discuss it for around a half an hour, in which, overtaken with the joy of hearing their melodic, harmonious language, you will remain oblivious to the fact that their speech has no content whatsoever. The Italians are body language users and abusers. You will soon realize that, after cracking their colorful body language code, you can understand an Italian person without necessarily having to hear him speak.
Ze Germans a a rare breed. Very sociable and polite, conversations with them will probably revolve around social issues, taxes, income or current political issues and events. They can be blunt if forced to and painfully honest in the most surprising of moments.
Such are the British as well, even though humour spices up and dresses up any subject a tad awkard or uncomfortable ...a good conversation about the weather in the morning, or a good gossip over tea, trifle subjects whereas in their heads complicated battles are being fought and won, as nothing of their true deep thoughts ever reveal themselves, nothing except a large, seemingly sincere smile...for reasons unknown.
In my opinion this (the smile) or a raised eyebrow could be two signs that a good conversation has just been had ;)