I am fortunate enough to be listening to Theodore Zeldin talking about the nature of conversation - rough notes from some of it below:
Conversation is different from talk
Talk in the past was about rising up the social scale. Etiquette - not what you thought. You had your place in society and that was it.
Conversation is a new thing. Conversation means who you keep company with. Not just the exchange of words - a social activity. When society was hierarchical we had one kind of conversation - now we need to invent a new kind of conversation. An exploration and self revelation. You each reveal things about what are important to you in your lives. You have admitted each other into private worlds and created links - you create shared experiences.
Women in the public sphere represent the biggest revolution since agriculture. They have introduced the complete human being into conversation and not just the trappings of power. Things can never be the same again.