SALVO [as the footman takes his coat]: Yes, yes… but there’s always a way, I assure you… [the footman goes out through the main entrance, downstage right.] There’s always a way of giving people a good opinion of us which at the same time increases their own self-esteem.
PALMA [promptly, as she slips off her gloves]: And makes them insufferably conceited!
SALVO: No, my dear, quite the reverse: which turns out to be to our advantage too.
PALMA: But I notice so many things nowadays!
SALVO: You don’t notice anything. Pay attention to this: Flavio talks to you. You know it’s just words, which he says simply for the sake of talking…
PALMA: Yes, words without any meaning to them!
SALVO: Quite so. But by the way you listen to them, you can show him they have…
PALMA: How? If they just haven’t?
SALVO: It’s easy! You give them a meaning, yourself; you put a meaning into them – whatever meaning best suits you. But you pretend he’s put a meaning into them. He’ll be delighted to find his own words actually make sense. In that way you can gradually make him into exactly what you want him to be; and he’ll be under the impression that that’s what he wants to be. Do I make myself clear?
PALMA: It doesn’t sound easy!
SALVO: I know. I’m not saying it’s easy. But you can take it from me, it’s the way one has to run one’s life.
“Right You Are! (If you Think So)” – “Cosí è (se vi pare)” – Act II, Luigi Pirandello. Penguin Books. 1962.