Tag: conversation

How to Talk Right

Is there really a right way of talking? Can we actually know how to listen and respond accurately? Is there a hope our conversations won’t end up frustratingly empty, banal, or worse yet, useless?

Paul Grice proposed four maxims by which we can gauge conversations. Before you frown or get cynical, give his maxims a try.

1. Quality – Be truthful.

  • Do not say what you believe to be false
  • Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.

2. Quantity

  • Make your contribution as informative as is required (for the current purposes of the exchange).
  • Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.

3. Relation – Be relevant.

4. Manner – Be Clear

  • Avoid obscurity of expression.
  • Avoid ambiguity.
  • Be brief.
  • Be orderly.

How do you find his suggestions? Too stiff? Impractical? Or safe? I don’t think he has discussed everything in detail such as finding and sharing common interests,initiating topics, turn-taking, and changing the subject of talk. Yet keeping his tips in mind while we are talking won’t hurt.

Say More, Sailor

“Come, I’ll drop you off,” Khaled insisted.

“No, Julie’s taking a cab with me. I’ll drop her off on my way to Abu Dhabi,” Zi replied for me.

“Are you sure, Julie?” Kavee whispered

“I’ll be fine,” forcing a blank face.

All my colleagues left except for me and Zi.

“Zi, don’t deprive me of my daily exercise,” I fought for privacy. “I’ll walk home.”

“You’ll be walking for half an hour in this humid weather?”

“Yes. Thanks for your concern. But I could really manage,” putting smiles on, I bade him goodbye.

I couldn’t stand a second being with them. I was utterly red upon awkwardly displacing the bread all over the table. Sulking while tracing my path home, some bystanders sitting beside the street  jested:

“Hello, Habibi! How are you?”

As if not hearing anything, I quickly walked past them. One of the men suddenly seized my left wrist. To my great shock, I almost screamed.

Then, a boomerang from somewhere hit the unwelcome arm. They were all stunned to see who threw it.

“Leave her alone,” a cap hid my savior’s identity yet her voice confirmed my hunch. Surprisingly, they left.

“Why do you walk on skirts along dark streets?” she asked.

“I went to a company dinner.”


“These are the right clothes.”

“How is it working inside chilled buildings?”

“Eh.. not interesting. Only the view of sailboats down here soothes my boredom.”

“Really.. I’ve never had a look of them from the top. I’ve always been inside those dhows, you know.”

“You’re a sailor?”

“I thought it’s obvious with my cap.”

“How is it like sailing?”


“Oh, come on, say more.”

“I’m sea-sick. I hate every journey.”

“Ohh, that’s a problem.”

“Not really. If you can’t have what you want, like what you have.”