Wednesday, August 25, 2010

the art of conversation

now my host was rubbish at this, so i've had to teach myself. i'm still not very good, either, but maybe little clues will help.

1) watch coronation street.

now, although the accents are awesome and fun to do, DON'T, unless with friends. people can take offence and think you are taking the piss if you go all yorkshire when you are not. trust me. they get very upset. especially if they are from yorkshire themselves.

however, DO pay attention to the timing of the speech. you'll notice everyone takes turns, they do not speak over each other, and they leave clear gaps when its another person's turn. not every human does this, because it is not taught at school, but the best conversationalist do, so you should too.

there is a lot of shouting on coronation street. i wouldn't recommend this; again, unless you are with friends. it can be quite fun to have a pretend (fake) argument, at volume, but strangers can often react badly, unless by eye contact you have already created a connection. (to be explained in a later post).

so, even if what you think you want to say is really really important, or funny, or whatever, DON'T say it, until the other speaker has left an appropriate pause, at the end of a clause. sometimes, the other speaker will continue over the top of you. it is best to stop, and then wait for a longer pause. if they do it consistently, find another conversation partner, as they are an idiot.

when in a group, the dynamic is more complex. there is a hard to define "right to speak" which passes around. be patient and ware, and you'll get the hang of it. its an energy thing, not in the mind.

subject matter is the bit i'm no good at yet, there is a need to acknowledge the other person, be funny and be original, or sometimes follow appropriate ritual. . information or knowledge is secondary, and indeed can be an impediment.

if you are lucky enough to find a coszh speaker, then the subject matter is irrelevant, and the raw dynamics can be practised without the more difficult meaning layer intruding.


  1. yeah, true, but coro street SUX big time - it's not real life, it's a life where there ARE pauses.
    best to be cautious with those you don't know.
    those you do know will have more patients with you, but thats no excuse to think your all good and then run them over with irrelavant meaningless (to them) blather.

    sometimes it's better to take the back seat and see how the group dynamic works before jumping right in there like you own the place.
    it's not appreciated by those who were there first or are in charge of a present conversation subject. sometimes what you have to say isn't actually that important. realize this and let others do their thing until you get the swing of it.
    you then may find you become more comfortable with how it works and then it will be easier to fit into a conversation as it becomes more natural once in the swing of the convesation/group dynamic, instead of trying to force yourself onto others and then be repelled by them for doing so.

    there are "ritual" aspects to some conversations, but the rules do not always apply, but following them with new acquaintances is the best option, but with closer long-time friends, things can be more relaxed. still no excuse to exert your conversation or will over others which in turn will push them away from your company.