The art of selective conversation in personal relationships

Silence is golden when inspired by caustic conversations.

We all know one. The opinionated person whom has no problems sharing his/her views but has great difficulty listening to yours. It only takes one discussion for me to initiate selective conversation with these individuals. My daddy always said there are two things you should not discuss, religion and politics. I have learned he was right to some extent, these are both very volatile topics that evoke strong opinions. I have also discovered that you can discuss anything with educated open minded individuals and nothing with a know it all or self centered person.

I first learned the art of selective conversation behind the bar in my families restaurant. There is nothing worse than an opinionated drunk. I developed what I call " bartender ears" so I could monitor conversations around the bar and diffuse aggressive discussions. I became a great listener! Random customers sharing their life stories, not wanting to hear what I thought of their choices. Life changing events like weddings and funerals bring out the best and worst in some. It is best to listen to how the person fits into the whole life portrait, in these cases, before you open your mouth, selective conversation.

Selective conversation masters the art of the old adage "Think before you speak!". People have the tendency to blurt out conversations like verbal diarrhea. Feeling relieved to express their feelings and views not thinking about the root cause of their self indulgent prophecies. Lets take a simple example of the first date. We begin with what I call ' idle chit chat'. What are your favorite things to do? Have you seen any good movies lately?  This is non confrontational conversation and lets everyone relax and get to know a bit about one another. As the evening progresses the conversation gets more personal. Have you ever been married?, for example. This is when I sugges selective conversation. However, most people at this point spill the beans and reveal much more than is needed about themselves and their personalities. A simple, 'Yes I was but it didn't work out' would be enough information. Instead a regular conversation might go. "Yes I was but she cheated on me with my best friend. I was devastated and still haven't gotten over it. I rarely get to see my two kids and ended up in an apartment because my wife got the house in the divorce. She really cleaned me out and now I am starting all over", etc, etc. With selective conversation there is much more time to get to know the person without judgement. If someone says they are religious and the other replies that they don't believe in life after death the ensuing conversation is already doomed.

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