Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Lost Art of Conversation

What has happened to conversation? Are there no charming conversationalists left in the world? The typical "conversation" I witness these days is not dialog, but a series of parallel monologues. Then--if at an especially good gathering-- someone may jump in to make a witty quip, to which another picks up the thread with his/her own monologue, anon.


Here are some tips for making conversation:
  1. Show interest in the other people present. Ask the occasional question. Listen to the response.
  2. Do not drone on forever. Make a pleasantly succinct response to a question, then turn the spotlight to someone else, maybe by asking a question in kind.
  3. Do not be terse when asked a question. Give a thoughtful answer of more than two words. Allow your response to be a platform for continuing conversation.
  4. Draw others into the conversation. "Oh, John, I recall that you also studied art/lived in Canada/enjoy fishing/speak Swahili."
  5. The bottom line is, become engaged with the other conversants. It is not your show. Nor is a festive occasion your private nap time. It may take practice, but make an effort and you shall be rewarded. If it is too much for you, make a gracious early departure.
kStyle, who was just stuck for 4 hours at a party where she could not engage anyone in conversation except the guy whose attention was divided with watching his toddler, nor did anyone ask her a single question, so busy were they monologuing at each other bitching about work, except for the person texting on her cell.


Ann F said...

Yes. Yes, yes yes. Yes.

kStyle said...

Ann, is there a story attached to those yeses?

Ann F said...

Nah, not really. I just happen to know a lot of people who like to go on and on and on...

I also wish coworkers wouldn't complain to me about other coworkers. I just don't want to hear it.

kStyle said...

Me, too! It's so rude.