The Art of Conversation

Example one:

When the conversation turned to Chinese radio DJ Dongfang Billy, one of our kakis proclaimed in a loud voice “What a fucking idiot this guy is, I can’t imagine anyone retarded enough to listen to his program.”

His outburst was met with silence from the rest of us.

When you say something like that, what do you expect? The conversation died.

If you agree with him, the conversation will go downhill; if you disagree you’ll know for sure arguments will ensue.

What a bummer.

Example two:

At another place and at another time, the conversation turned to that guy in the Visa ad who was captured on video dancing all over the world.

A rather self-absorbed individual opined that Matt Harding is no dancer and that the rest of the people have “no dance sense.”

This coming from someone who can’t dance for nuts, someone who has shown zero discernment when it comes to choosing movies to watch or books to read.

Come on, Matt Harding achieved what you would never have achieved even if you live your life five times over.

On April 1 he was even hired by Singapore Tourism Board to dance at Times Square as part of the festivities to launch a new marketing program for Singapore in the US.

Even before YouTube, Harding’s quirky and delightful dance videos were viewed by so many people that Visa approached him to do an ad for them. Harding is a phenomenon and most people – instead of bitching about it – don’t really mind watching those ads even though they get screened before every movie shown in the cinemas here.

Example three:

Another one of our kakis is such an irritation that people call me to find out if he’s going to be there at our weekly get-togethers.

This individual who is a first-class gasbag and all-round retard dominates conversations, he talks and talks and talks and talks, never mind if he has all his facts wrong, he would argue, interrupt and talk and talk and talk as if he knows about everything under the sun. (Actually those of us who know, know that he doesn’t even know the difference between his asshole and a hole in the ground.)

On the rare occasions when he’s away and cannot join our meetings, we all heave a collective sigh of relief – ah, some peace and quiet at last.

You see, some people are great conversationalists; some are just conversation killers.

Some don’t even know what to do in a group – in the presence of a large group; they start private, side conversations behaving as if they are oblivious to the rest of the people present. This is very bad form, very bad form indeed. If you are in a large group, and someone corners you into a side conversation, it is incumbent upon you to direct this individual back to the group and not entertain him to the point where people start making furtive glances at you and doing other stuff to try to hint to you that you are way out of line. I know it can be a challenge to participate in a conversation with a group of people, no wonder they refer to this as the ART of conversation.

My dear mentor from New Zealand David Kimpton is in my mind the best example of a perfect conversationalist – he always know what to say, how to say it and when he hosts a meeting or a meal, he knows how to direct and channel conversation topics to various people at the table. David is the ultimate example of how one should hold court.

Which perhaps explains why some of us will never get invited to a black tie dinner, let alone a dinner at the White House.

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