What I think is interesting about this, is that I consider most of my friends as being on the other side of the conversation fence; in other words, having the abilities in the art of conversation that I feel I lack myself. I'm much better at the infrequent zinger interjections than I am at the steady flow. When it's one on one it's not as noticeable or even with a trio of talkers, but I find myself dropping silent in a group of 4 or more, being on the listening end instead. And often, regrettably, the dialogue becomes monologue because the one person in the bunch who has NO problem monopolizing or steering the conversation can quite easily take over completely.
In the course of my life, moving from place to place, I've learned to improve this quality in myself, to be able to initiate conversations with strangers, with acquaintances, and to keep them up even with people who are worse than me at the conversational arts, but I'm never really comfortable doing so. I'm much better at WRITING what I'm feeling and thinking than I am at verbalizing it...and quite honestly, most of the time, I simply don't share my opinions or thoughts on many subjects because 1) they're private and 2) I'm usually uninterested in starting a debate and often that is what conversations devolve into, depending upon the subject matter at hand and the various levels of extrovert and confidence in the participants.
Being the listener is fine with me, I'm quite okay with that position in a group of people. Pauses in the conversation don't NEED to be filled, in every instance. Sometimes it's nice to let the talk lapse completely and simply be comfortable in the presence of people.
Sometimes, however, it strikes me that most people have NO idea how opinionated I am about things because I DON'T speak out or interject my own thoughts and stances into conversations. I'm perfectly willing to listen to other people's opinions and thoughts and stories and anecdotes, but I simply don't consider it necessary in a great many instances to share my own, even though I may be THINKING about them at the same time. Listening to someone else's ideas may help form or re-form my own or give me perspective that I'm lacking, but often it seems that when you tell how YOU feel or think about something, others view it as permission to judge and reflect on your thoughts.
I might even come across as boring, I bet. Although I know that being a good listener is also an art, it would be nice to be able to balance it better and to be more comfortable with both sides of the give and take of verbal communication.
"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." — Dorothy Nevill