Office Conversations


I found this gem when doing some research and wow does it apply equally today. Originally published years ago . . . in the time of “servants” in the US, I present to you an exerpt from the Book of Etiquette, by Lillian Eichler.

“Courtesy is the very foundation of all good conversation.  Good speech
consists as much in listening politely as in talking agreeably.  Someone
has said, very wisely, “A talker who monopolizes the conversation is by
common consent insufferable
, and a man who regulates his choice of topics
by reference to what interests not his hearers but himself has yet to
learn the alphabet of the art.” To be agreeable in conversation, one must
first learn the law of talking just enough, of listening politely while
others speak, and of speaking of that in which one’s companions are most

There was a time when bluntness of manner was excused on the ground that
the speaker was candid, frank, outspoken
.  People used to pride
themselves upon the fact that in their conversation they had spoken the
truth-and hurt some one.  To-day there are certain recognized courtesies
of speech, and kindliness has taken the place of candidness.  There is no
longer any excuse for you to say things in your conversation that will
cause discomfort or pain to any one of your hearers.

One should never interrupt unless there is a good reason for it and then
it should be done with apologies.  It is not courteous to ask a great
many questions and personal ones are always taboo. One should be careful
not to use over and over and over again the same words and phrases and
one should not fall in the habit of asking people to repeat their
remarks.  Argument should be avoided and contradicting is always
discourteous.  When it seems that a heated disagreement is about to ensue
it is wise tactfully to direct the conversation into other channels as
soon as it can be done without too abrupt a turn, for to jerk the talk
from one topic to another for the obvious purpose of “switching someone
off the track” is in itself very rude.

Let your proverb be, “Talk well, but not too much.”

Wild, eh? My favorite part is the “Law of talking just enough.” Perfectly put. How many of us have co-workers who could employ this one. . . .

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