Good conversation is dependent on a simple but mysterious fit of mind and spirit that cannot be achieved, it just occurs. It's not a matter of mutual interests or class concerns or commonly held ideals, it's a matter of temperament; the thing that makes someone respond instinctively with an appreciative "I know just what you mean," rather than a challenging "What do you mean by that?" In the presence of shared temperament conversation almost never loses its free, unguarded flow. In its absence one is always walking on eggshells. Shared temperament is analogous to the way a set of gears works. The idea is not complicated but the mesh must be perfect.

Vivian Gornick, Approaching Eye Level