How to Be a Gentleman & Lady | Inspirational Lifestyle Podcasts

Podcast Transcript: Welcome to the Inspirational Living podcast, brought to you today by Book of Zen, makers of inspirational fashion and gift ideas. Visit them online at Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from “The man who pleases, and the woman who fascinates” by John Albert Cone, published in 1901.

In all countries where intelligence is prized, a talent for conversation ranks high among accomplishments. To clothe the thoughts in clear and elegant language, and to convey them impressively to the mind of another, is no common attainment.

The man or woman who is an intelligent, tactful conversationalist, commands one of the most essential elements of a successful life. While all of us may have certain defects which we cannot wholly overcome (however earnestly we may try), we can, if we will, re-form our conversation. We can so train ourselves that good nature, consideration, and benevolence will always have a place in our intercourse with others.

We can, if we will, use good English, and we can avoid the temptation, so common, to talk of persons rather than of things. Theoretically, we despise gossip; but, in practice, most of us add our mite to the common fund. We may not be ill-natured, and the sweet charity that “thinketh no evil” may have a home in our hearts; yet sometimes, if we are not watchful, it may fall asleep, and bitterness, or the spirit of spitefulness come creeping stealthily to the surface.

We can, if we will, be intellectually honest — a kind of honesty which is indeed rare. The principal reason why arguments and discussions lead to so much dissatisfaction and ill-feeling on the part of the disputants, is the lack of this quality. Two people are engaged in conversation and a question of religious belief or of politics is brought to the front. Each takes a side in the discussion and maintains their opinions to the end. Neither is searching for the truth, but is eager to defend their side of the question against the attacks of their opponent.

It does not occur to either that anything else can be the truth except the things they have been taught to believe. To both, the truth simply takes the form of their own opinions; and since they are most firmly attached to their opinions, neither ever questions their own devotion to the truth. Such persons can scarcely be said to use their minds at all, for their thinking has been done by someone else.

Many a host is obliged tactfully to separate aggressively argumentative and disputatious guests, who have never learned that others have an equal right to their own opinions, and that not every dinner party is the proper occasion to plunge into heated argument in the hope of changing another’s views. Again, we can all avoid the habit of exaggeration — a fault which does not get itself called by the name of “falsehood,” but which is in dangerously close proximity to it.

A person hears something, true enough in its original shape, but they pass it on with a little addition of their own. The one to whom they tell it adds their touch of exaggeration, until, at last, the statement is so swollen and distorted as to convey anything but the real truth. It would be difficult to charge any single one with deliberate prevarication. The result is a sort of accumulative lie, made by successive individual contributions of little dashes of exaggeration.

Thousands who would never be guilty of inventing an entire story derogatory to the reputation of another, are constantly contributing to the formation of these accumulative falsehoods, which are quite as evil in their results as though conceived and concocted by one person…..

Read The Entire Essay in Evergreen: 50 Inspirational Life Lessons

50 Inspirational Life Lessons