Thoughts on Conversation

The thoughts on conversation below were written by Samuel Miller (1769-1850), a theologian and a lecturer at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Don’t talk too much – you will burden your listeners. On the other hand, don’t remain excessively silent; especially when you have good matter to add to the conversation.

Avoid all tale-bearing as a hazardous and unholy habit. Follow 1 Corinthians 13: “thinketh no evil”. Therefore, always attempt to put the best and most charitable construction upon the actions of another.

Avoid prying into the secrets of others. Endeavour to remain ignorant of such matters.

Keep your conversation, as much as is possible, upon things and ideas – not persons.

Aim to edify in all you say.

Be not ashamed to prepare in advance.

Pay attention at all times to what the other person is saying. It is quite simply bad manners not to!

When someone is speaking in a group, don’t start a different conversation with the person next to you.

At all times show respect. (Consider your body-language as well as the words you use to reply.)

While avoiding staring, keep your eyes fixed on the person with whom you speak.

Try to learn to oppose erroneous statements without giving offence (or unnecessary offence). “Avoid a haughty and authoritative manner in conversation.” Don’t speak as if you spoke ex cathedra.

Steer clear of controversy, as much as you can (though sometimes it is needful).

Be careful not to lose your temper when you are drawn into a controversy.

Cultivate an easy, attractive manner in conversation…I mean that frank, courteous, unaffected, benign manner…

Don’t promise what you can’t, or are unlikely to, fulfil.

Be not ready to easily take offence yourself.

Avoid becoming suddenly and excessively intimate with strangers.

Be very reserved when it comes to confiding in others.

Be not too ready to offer your opinion, particularly in mixed company.

Maintain your personal dignity.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise” Proverbs 10v19.

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