I have always been pretty mild mannered and able to be calmed down easily in the rare event that I’ve become riled up. As of late, however, probably because I’m not getting the kind of physicality I’m used to due to my long distance relationship, I have been… testy, to say the least. So I figure this is probably the best time to really work on expressing restraint.
My goal is to talk intelligently and calmly on any subject. I think that in the past being elegant meant refraining from discussing certain topics–like sex, politics, and so on if you were a woman in particular–but I don’t think it needs to be that way now. I think anything can be discussed but you have to be careful with how you do it.
For example, you can talk about politics and religion if you tread very carefully and make sure to NEVER make it seem like you look down on someone for thinking differently and it’s probably best if you word things so that it sounds like you are agreeing with them anyway, or ask questions so that you can understand them better. You can present alternate sides, but I actually think it’s best if you have some kind of way to prove what you are saying, so it may be wise to say something like, “Wow, I realize that you want to talk about this, but I’d rather we come back to it later.” Then, if they seem interested in that idea, you can kind of get some research to back up what you are saying, so if it comes up: “well, you can’t PROVE it,” you can at least have something to offer. I wouldn’t suggest writing a novel or anything, but just something to back up what you are saying can help diffuse things if people get angry. I think the most important thing is to not name call and not get worked up when talking with them. YOU need to stay calm no matter what, and change the conversation if it gets out of hand, before a friendship is broken.
Likewise, I think talking about people–exes, current lovers, children, parents, etc–that are frustrating you for whatever reason isn’t the most elegant choice one cold make. I think that the negative things you have to say about someone should just be kept to yourself, unless you are in some really significant crisis and need feedback. I feel like when you talk about the bad things about someone it just makes you more sensitive to them, and it sometimes invites a third or fourth or fifth person into a relationship and relationship issue that should stay between the primary people. You have no idea what may get back to the person you are talking about, and I think it is just overall better if you talk mainly about the positive things and as minimally as possible about the negative. In line with this, you should downplay your complaints in general–particularly those about your health. No one cares or wants to hear about you being sick or whatever unless it is somehow relevant to them: they are your employer and need to know you are not coming in because you are sick (even then you probably don’t need to go into detail), because they are your doctor, or if they specifically ask.
Anytime you want to talk about yourself should also be carefully monitored. I believe there are ways to talk about things you are currently doing without being a braggart, but it’s a fine line to walk. You don’t ever want to talk about something that makes the other person feel bad–you want to bring them up–so you have to read them and see what is okay to talk about. For example, if they are single and hurting, talking a lot about your wonderful boyfriend may not be the best idea. On the other hand, they may be a great person to brainstorm with on your latest book project.