In The Art and Skill of Conversation the authors identify specialized knowledge as being a common pitfall of good conversation. Expert-speak and industry jargon can have an alienating and even condescending effect – at least in the beginning – and usually doesn’t carry over well from the workplace to broader social situations.
Writing about The Dying Art of Conversation columnist Duane Wells touches on the same notion, arguing that generalists have a much easier go at a good chat:
Now in addition to being a good listener, one must also be engaging in order to succeed at conversation. It is not enough to simply sit and listen attentively and politely to your guests like a bump on the proverbial log, you must also feed the conversation in much the same way one stokes a fire in one’s fireplace. As conversation sizzles and crackles, you may sit back and enjoy the warmth and beauty of the thing, but as conversation begins to wane, you must do your part to get it going by throwing a log on it…i.e. introducing a new topic. This is the only way to bask in the glow of good conversation for an entire evening.