Learn to have a great conversation

If you ever have If you talk to someone and then feel that your time would have been better spent talking to a brick wall, you will almost certainly relate to Rebecca West's observations. “There is no such thing as a conversation,” the novelist and literary critic wrote in her short story collection. Hard sound. “It's an illusion. There are cross-talks, that's all.”

If someone feels that their conversations leave no impression on those around them, this is the definition of existential isolation. You've probably experienced this on a bad date, at a bad dinner, or during an endless family gathering.

Psychological research has identified many habits and biases that impose barriers between us and others, and if we want to have greater connection with the people around us, we must learn how to overcome them. The good news is that the fixes are very easy to implement. Small adjustments in our conversation style can have huge benefits.

Let's start with sins of omission. “The art of conversation is the art of listening and listening,” declared the early 19th century writer William Hazlitt in his book. About the author's conversationPublished 1820. “Some of the best speakers are, in this sense, the worst company.”

Hazlitt noted that many of his literary acquaintances, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Stendhal, and William Wordsworth, were so concerned with displaying their wit and intelligence that they lacked the basic civility to listen to others. Instead, he recommended emulating the painter James Northcott, who, he said, was the best listener and, as a result, the best communicator he knew. “I never ate or drank with Mr. Northcote; “But I lived their conversation with absolute happiness as long as I can remember,” Hazlitt wrote. Who wouldn't want their acquaintances to feel this way?

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The easiest way to do this is to ask more questions; However, surprisingly few people have acquired this habit effectively. While studying for her doctorate in organizational behavior at Harvard University, Karen Huang More than 130 participants were invited He entered his laboratory and asked them to talk in pairs for a quarter of an hour through an instant messaging program over the Internet. He found that even in those 15 minutes, people's question rate varied widely, from about four or less at the low end to nine or more at the high end.

Asking more questions can make a big difference in how likable someone is. in Separate experienceHuang's team analyzed recordings of people's conversations during a speed dating event. Some people consistently ask more questions than others, and this significantly predicts their chances of getting a second date.

It's easy to understand why questions are so beautiful: they show your desire to build mutual understanding and give you the opportunity to validate each other's experiences. But even if we ask a lot of questions, we may not ask the right questions. In his analyses, Huang looked at six different categories of questions. You can see examples below:

1. Introductory
wait, how are you?

2. Tracking
I'm planning a trip to Canada.
Oh great. Have you ever been there before?

3. Complete change
I work in dry cleaning.
What do you like to do to have fun?

4. Partial change
I'm not an outdoors person, but I'm not opposed to a walk or something like that once in a while.
Have you been to the beach in Boston often?

Myrtle Frost

"Reader. Evil problem solver. Typical analyst. Unapologetic internet ninja."

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