Some years ago the RAND Corporation in California conducted a study to try to determine why committees, even those composed of the most brilliant minds, were so notoriously bumbling and ineffective. Their conclusion: Nobody ever listens. Everyone on a committee is so eager to be heard himself that he doesn’t bother to hear what the others are saying. The same, alas, is true of most conversations. In our eagerness to get our own message across, we often fail to hear what is actually being said to us. And thus we miss the opportunity to make a comment that is both pertinent and arresting. So remember that a good conversationalist is, first and foremost, a good listener. In fact, among people who are widely regarded as great conversationalists there are some who hardly ever open their mouths at all – which illustrates one of the bonuses of being a good listener: Because people have a tendency to remember the clever things they have said and to forget how they turned the conversation into a monologue, they are apt to give a large share of the credit for their own wit and wisdom to the one who simply listened to it.