Talktale

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There’s the’ act’ of talking common to everyone and there’s the ‘art’ of talking which some have deliberately acquired. In our early days, we learn to speak, barely understanding what we say at first but as we get older, we hone this integral aspect of communication so that we don’t just speak, we talk. Communication is the total delivery of a message from one person to another. A breakdown occurs when a message differing from the one transmitted is received or where there’s an incomplete download or, the media of transfer are out of sync. Let’s get a clearer picture in the following points.

Sound speech: When you give words the importance due them, you will be more confident, albeit careful with your audience when you speak. Public speaking is a platform many of us shy away from (myself included) for the obvious reasons of nervousness, intimidation and uncertainty, particularly if it’s a large audience. I have however observed that successful public speaking goes beyond the KISS rule (keep it short & simple). Something more is required. What I call a ‘ringing impression’ and it has a lot to do with the intellectual appeal of a speech.

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You also shouldn’t slur or mispronounce your words, especially in a formal situation. On an informal note briefly, let me share a profound hint I came across recently with the guys:”Never underestimate the power of grammatical soundness in wooing a woman.” But that doesn’t mean you should go, ‘What a pulchritudinous female you are!’ (Rolling my eyes)….. Okay, back to the topic-Positive communication is devoid of spiteful gossip for it doesn’t cast aspersions on the gossipee, it does on you. Keep in mind that “What Sally says about Susie says more about Sally than it does about Susie”

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Perfect pitch: Just like you won’t whisper to an audience, you don’t raise your voice when speaking to someone who is beside you. A perfect pitch is vitally important in demonstrating good manners. A colleague of mine once pointed out my shrilly speaking voice which I thought was ‘oh-so-cool’ at the time so unequivocally I had to concede and correct myself. Ladies you must have read that a lady should be seen not heard. A lousy loud voice that heralds a presence is unfitting to a lady. You should appear before your voice does. You may reconsider your voice level if people can tell you are close by without looking out the window.

Dismissive tone: Be mindful enough to avoid a dismissive tone.  For instance, someone walks up to you and says “how do you do” and you reply curtly, “fine”. By the way, the response to that greeting is the same as the greeting- how do you do. A curt response leaves no room for conversation.

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Tactless talk: If you can but possess the invaluable quality of tact each time you speak, you’ll get along pretty well but if you choose to sound off at the expense of your hearer’s feelings with the unintelligent excuse of ‘I always speak my mind’ then it’s just too bad. Although tact can avoid a topic of discussion altogether, it’s not always so because it’s not so much the topic as the approach sometimes. I once had an Arabic teacher during my first year in secondary school. And one day, in my final year, five years later, he saw me at a distance and beckoned. He apologized so profusely for what he was about to say that I made up my mind to take whatever was coming in good faith. Finally, amidst so many ‘sorrys’ and ‘don’t-be-angrys’ he gently pointed out my radical weight gain (which everyone was talking about anyway). I laughed quite hard. I had never enjoyed such cardinal humour  at a word of advice. However, my laughter was inoffensive and it ended with a promise to ‘do something about it’- and I have! So, how’s that for a tactful correction?

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Talkie talker: You’ve probably met someone who can dominate a conversation for at least 45 minutes. Yes, it’s called ‘the gift of the gab’ but when one answers questions not asked of him/ her, interrupts others or dominates a conversation, it’s impolite.

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It’s okay to revel in the spotlight when it’s on you but sometimes, we tend to mindlessly go on, enjoying the sound of our own voice without much consideration for others. It can be a lot worse when one thinks he/ she is funny. Before long, such a person will bulldoze emotions with their mouths. Discipline of the mouth is good practice in acceptable social talking.

Ungolden silence:

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Garrulity may be a sign of moral bankruptcy but the other extreme of ‘graveside silence’ isn’t a flattering quality either (I’m once again culpable of this…….but, hey, I’m talkative on paper! Lol). The essence of socializing is interaction and networking which is impossible without talking- within limits of tact, intellect and time that is. Although you reserve the right to remain silent on a topic you know nothing about (rather than lying) you will be socially incorrect to remain quiet throughout a social conversation after exchanging formalities. It’s simply unsettling. If, however, this is a natural inclination, you will do well to surround yourself with people ‘unlike’ you that can coax you out of your shell , update your reservoir of knowledge so that you have something meaningful to contribute or you can even exercise your humour muscle and throw in the spice of jest that may evoke a good laugh. Before you know what’s happening, you are socially adept! It’s a misnomer to assume ‘keeping too quiet’ (and inevitably looking dumb) is the same as exuding high social class. There’s really no substitute for a good conversationalist in social gatherings. Silence looses its aura when it’s unnecessarily persistent.

Speak right, sound right.

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