Communication Lessons from Shakespeare-Revisited


I blogged about this some time ago.  While looking through my posts for another article, I found it and thought I'd share it again.  Enjoy! While going through my email files, I found the following quote:
“Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.” ~William Shakespeare
Shakespeare packs quite a lot into this one line and I thought it so profound that I wanted to dissect it to get the full impact of what he is saying here. Shakespeare says that conversation should be pleasant without scurrility.  Scurrility is abusive language or a rude remark. This is quite unique today with the invention of electronic communication such as you are reading here.  More and more I see people who feel free or even justified to be rude just because they don’t have to look their victim in the eye as they do it. Next he says conversation should be witty without affectation. Affectation means a speech that is not natural for you.  It is natural to want to put your best foot forward when we present ourselves to others but it is important that we don’t change who God made us to fit that bill.  I’m a goofball.  It comes naturally.  I goof around with language when I write and speak.  It’s natural for me.  If I were to try to be some Serious Sally, you might feel like I was putting on airs.  In fact, I have a story to tell you about that. Way back when I first started writing communication studies, my husband was in charge of editing my work.  He doesn’t write the way I do.  He’s got a fabulous sense of humor, but he doesn’t write that way.  His style is more formal and polished.  After reading over his changes, I remember thinking it sounded like I swallowed a dictionary!  I took it back to him and said, “Lighten up, Francis!”  (from a line in a movie) God gave each of us a unique perspective.  Nobody wants to read what you think someone else would say.  They want to know what YOU think. Next Shakespeare says we should be free without indecency.  Free speech should not be so free that we compromise moral decency. Free speech has its consequences and one of them is that we have now become a society where anything goes, but very little is valuable.  It’s hard to draw that line in law, but most of us know when it’s been crossed.   Ephesians 4:29 tells us, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” For the past few weeks, I’ve been posting some fabulous videos of Christian comedians and I’ve noticed something.  It takes so much more talent and creativity to be funny without swearing and what results makes you laugh even more! Next he talks about being learned without conceitedness.  Conversation should strive to be intelligent discussion without putting on those airs.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh said “Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.” Do you have someone in your life that you dread talking to?  Someone who either never says anything new or someone who is always talking about himself so that you get bored with the conversation?  Do you have someone in your life you just LOVE talking to?  Maybe this person is an elderly relative who always has such rich and interesting stories to tell about life in the last century.  Conversation can be dull or it can have you hanging on every word.  It’s up the the individual to give something interesting of himself and there is a fine line between giving of himself and giving himself. Finally, Shakespeare talks about being novel without falsehood.  This goes along the same lines as the previous segment.  There are those for whom boredom breaks out of his mouth because he never interjects a novel idea into the conversation.  Then there are those who spin wild tales just to wow their audience who is fully aware that almost none of this fantastic tale is actually true. I hope you enjoyed your Communication lessons from Shakespeare!  I now return you to your regularly scheduled era. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ If you liked this post, read…Seven Reasons Why YOU Should Sign Up for the Art of Eloquence Newsletter!

2 comments


  • Art of Eloquence

    I agree. Today, civility is all but gone.


  • Carla

    Good thoughts, William! :) I think it was much easier back in Shakespeare’s day to have this type of conversation. They were taught how to converse. It’s not easy, but we have to try. Either that or fall asleep talking to everyone. . . but what’s worse. . . is that everyone falls asleep when you’re doing the talking!


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