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by Jennifer Brown Banks

The Dying Art of Intelligent Conversation (and the Assassins!)

One of the sexiest and most intriguing men I’ve ever known, is a guy with whom I’ve never been romantically involved. The amazing and ironic thing about this, is that he's seven years my junior, and he's a blue-collar worker!

I swear, this guy could sell ice to an Eskimo!

What originally started out as a clever pick-up line from this cutie, opened the door to an ongoing friendship. And quite frankly, dispelled many myths I had held about younger guys, and blue-collar workers.


What makes him so sexy and intriguing?

He knows the fine art of intelligent conversation, and masters it well!

Many men fail to realize that the biggest sex organ is the brain. But this guy, he gets it! From our very first conversation over the phone, (which lasted three hours), there was intellectual chemistry. He was suave and super smart! He spoke at great length about everything--- from religion, to music, to relationships, to gender differences, with "realness" and a great sense of humor!
And he wanted to hear my views as well.

He didn’t brag about himself, and he didn’t come off as being bitter, or having anything to prove. He was simply who he was. I really dig that in a man. But honestly, I find it to be rare. Which begs the question…

What ever happened to the art of intelligent conversation? Has it been lost in our fast-paced, technologically obsessed, glitter before substance society? Has it been replaced by voice-mail, E-mail, seductive song lyrics, and "quickies" on compact cell phones?

Think about it. When was the last time you dialogued with someone who had you dangling for more? Or someone who challenged your way of thinking, or actually taught you a thing or two? Or perhaps someone who made you feel good about who you are? I bet it’s been awhile.

So this column is being written to resurrect what has become a dying art. To help us connect, communicate, and conquer the madness!

First - Here's a Look at the Assassins

(Applies to romantic and platonic conversations)

One of the biggest obstacles to intelligent conversation, I find, is a preoccupation with gossip. Too many people think that by “dishing the dirt” on other folks, they are being “interesting.”

For me, it comes off as being more "telling" of the person who is spreading the rumor. It says that he or she needs to get a life!

It also speaks to a certain mean-spiritness. Intelligent people discuss ideas, not other people. Which is not to suggest that all gossip is bad, but it should definitely be governed.

Idol Worship
If you’re over 21, it's really a turn-off if you know the intimate details of Jennifer Aniston’s love life, the hobbies of Hollywood actresses, and the names of all their pets and kids. Some folks put way too much emphasis on the lives of the stars, and too little on their own. Which is an unhealthy fixation that makes them "God" like, and you goofy.

Improper Communication Tools
I certainly don't consider myself to be perfect when it comes to English. In fact, when I am gabbing with good friends, I might break into some Ebonics or even Pig Latin! But I typically know right from wrong, even when I slip. And you should too.

Never use the word "irregardless", "conversate", or forget that all sentences must contain a subject and a verb.

Poor Taste and Proper Discretion
I think it's safe to say that not all conversations are "created equally." People who don’t know me well might be surprised to discover I have a really good sense of humor (despite my very conservative demeanor).

And when talking to family and friends, let’s just say I can be quite colorful! But, I never tell jokes or discuss really controversial topics with folks I don’t know well. And I’m surprised when others do!

It’s important to realize that everything shouldn’t be shared with everyone. Not to mention, if you don’t know an individual, you may not know what will be considered offensive. I’ve had people who barely knew me ask really personal, intrusive questions, or make comments that I found offensive. It’s better to be cautious than to be considered crude.

Now Here's a Look at Nine Noteworthy Pointers on How to be a Good Conversationalist:

1) Remember that conversation should be a two-way street. Talk, but listen too!

2) Ask questions, but don't be intrusive.

3) Try not to interrupt (I'm working on this one).

4) Be well rounded. Don't just talk about sports, or religion, or current events.

5) Don't be afraid of periodic silences.

6) Be open minded and respectful of others' opinions.

7) Have a little mystery. Don't pour out your heart and soul. Save that for a counselor or really close friend.

8) Don't whine. Few people care.

9) Don't lie to impress.

If you'd like to "communicate" your thoughts on this article, I'd love to hear from you! Email me at

> - The best approach to find the one. <

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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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