“Talkin’ It Over” watercolor by kayti sweetland rasmussen
Good conversation has a beginning and an end. I regret to say that some people don’t know how to end one. Let me explain: first, check out their body language. No, that doesn’t mean to give unnecessary attention to certain parts of their body. If they begin fidgeting or their eyes glaze over, or they begin looking for a fast way out, you know that the conversation is over. It absolutely does NO good to pop in another subject. They really need to get away. And don’t take offense. They probably like you all right, and they’ll be OK with it another day. But for now, gracefully drift away.
I watched a wonderful example of good conversation on TV the other day. Six elderly Chinese women in their 90’s were asked the question “what do you talk about together?” It turns out they talk about everything women everywhere talk about, which is everything! Children, family, health matters, politics etc. took precedence in those women’s conversation. And if they still had husbands, they probably used them as an inexhaustible subject! The important thing was the way they conducted their conversation, by taking turns, no one interrupting the other, but with expectant faces waiting to jump in when the time was right. Conversational ping pong!
General rules for good conversation go like this:
1. Eliminate the overuse of the word “I”.
2. No name-dropping.
3. No unsolicited advice.
4. No deliberate digs at their politics or religion, although those subjets are no longer taboo. In fact, they have always been the most interesting of subjects if you can keep others from clubbing you to death.
5. When in a group of people and you are not the speaker, try not to doze. It may be imnpossible in some cases, but do try to drink another cup of coffee or something to keep you awake until you can take your leave.
6. No monologues!! This is a huge rule. Try not to forget this one.
7. Sports is always a great opener. Just try not to bad mouth the other person’s favorite team or Alma Mater.
8. It’s perfectly all right to discuss sex, as long as it’s discreet and not about your next door neighbor.
A good conversation is energizing, and should give you material for your next conversational ping pong game. Just go for it!