The tangled talker never gets anything quite straight. He inevitably spoils the best story. He always begins at the wrong end. Despite your protests of face and manner he talks on. He talks inopportunely. He becomes inextricably confused. He is weak in statistics. He has no memory for names or places. He lacks not fluency but accuracy. He is a twisted talker.
The triumphant talker lays claim to the star part in any conversation. He likes nothing better than to drive home his point and then look about exultingly. He says gleefully, “I told you so.” That he can ever be wrong is inconceivable to him. He knows the facts since he can readily manufacture them himself. He is self-satisfied, for in his own opinion he has never lost an argument. He is a brave and bold talker.
These, then, are some types of talking which we should not emulate. Study the list carefully—the tiresome talker, the trifling talker, the tedious talker, the tattling talker, the tautological talker, the tenacious talker, the tactless talker, the temperamental talker, the tantalizing talker, the tangled talker, the triumphant talker—and guard yourself diligently against the faults which they represent. Talking should always be a pleasure to the speaker and listener, never a bore.
Conversation is not a verbal nor vocal contest, but a mutual meeting of minds. It is not a monologue, but a reciprocal exchange of ideas.
There are cardinal rules which everyone should observe in conversation. The first of these is to be prepared always to give courteous and considerate attention to the ideas of others. There is no better way to cultivate your own conversational powers than to train yourself first to be an interesting and sympathetic listener.
It is in bad taste to interrupt a speaker. This is a common fault which should be resolutely guarded against. Moreover, your own opportunity to speak will shortly come if you have patience, when you may reasonably expect to receive the same uninterrupted attention which you have given to others.
Never allow yourself to monopolize a conversation. This is a form of selfishness practiced by many persons apparently unaware of being ill-mannered. It is inexcusably bad taste to tell unduly long stories or lengthy personal experiences. If you cannot abridge a story to reasonable dimensions, it would be better to omit it entirely. The habitual long-story teller may easily become a bore.
Avoid the habit of eagerly matching the other person’s story or experience with one of your own. There is nothing more disconcerting to a speaker than to observe the listener impatiently waiting to plunge headlong into the conversation with some marvellous tale. Be particularly careful not to outdo another speaker in relating your own experiences. If, for instance, he has just told how he caught fifty fish upon a recent trip, do not succumb to the temptation to tell of the time you caught fifty-one.