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21 Chapter VIII

IF I WERE TWENTY-ONE I WOULD STUDY THE ART OF PLEASING

Much of the content from life is due to having pleasant people around you. Hence I would form habits and cultivate manners that would please them.

For instance, I would make my personal appearance as attractive as possible. I would look clean, well-dressed, and altogether as engaging as the material I had to work with would allow.

I would be punctual. To keep people waiting is simply insolent egotism.

I would, if my voice were unpleasant, have it cultivated until it became agreeable in tone. I would speak low. I would not mumble, but learn the art of clear, distinct speech. It is very trying to associate with persons who talk so that it is a constant effort to understand their words.

I would learn the art of conversation, of small talk. I would equip myself to be able to entertain the grouchiest, most blasé people. For there is hardly a business in the world in which it is not a great advantage to be able to converse entertainingly.

The secret of being a good conversationalist is probably a genuine, unselfish interest in others. That and practice. It consists more in making the other person talk than in talking yourself.

I would learn how to write so that it would not burden people to read it. In this matter, one hint: The English language is composed of separate letters, hence, when you have written one letter, if you will move your pen along before you write the next we shall be able, probably, to discover what you intend, no matter how imperfectly you compose your separate letters.

I would not argue. I never knew one person in my life that was convinced by argument. Discuss, yes; but not argue. The difference is this: in discussion you are searching for the truth, and in argument you want to prove that you are right. In discussion, therefore, you are anxious to know your neighbour’s views, and you listen to him. In argument, you don’t care anything about his opinions, you want him to hear yours; hence, while he’s talking you are simply thinking over what you are going to say as soon as you get a chance.

Altogether, I would try to make my personality pleasing, so that people would in turn endeavour to be pleasing to me.


If I were Twenty-One I would save money21If I were Twenty-One I would determine, even if I could never be anything else in the world, that I would be a thoroughbred


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