Theory of conversation, part 2

Last week I noted Scott Adams' thoughts on how to make good conversation. Making conversation is a skill that I need to work on. Good
  • Tell a story, if you are a good story teller, or funny
  • Create something from nothing; it's hard to describe this category, but think about standing in a nondescript environment but I'm thinking of inventing a nickname/story, accuse someone of something, being funny without telling jokes, saying something in a funny/cocky way, etc. Often this is where the most memorable in-jokes and stories are made. I'm extremely not-good in this area. Pickup artists are extremely strong in this area.
  • Along the same lines, conversations about risky or sexual topics
  • Gossip, if you're careful not to shit where you eat
  • Asking the other person to describe an accomplishment or event, because people like talking about themselves and it's a way to raise their status
  • Give a compliment, if you are not too obvious about it
  • Outline choices you've made and the reasons for doing so
  • Describe why you spend your time the way you do
  • Describe productivity hacks
  • Describe a problem and then collaborate on a solution
Bad
  • Checking your email or answering your phone while we're talking. This drives me nuts.
  • Asking yes/no questions
  • Terse factual questions
  • Silence/Having nothing to say - depends on how well you know the person, situation but generally you should have some stuff to talk about.
  • Speaking during a momentous occasion, like standing on a mountain watching the sun set.
  • Commenting on how awkward silence is
  • Apologizing - just don't do it
  • Continually bringing up a past failing to signal to the other person how apologetic you are - again, just don't do it
  • Trying to be funny if you are not funny
  • Telling a bad story. Most things that don't involve staring at your computer can become good stories if you tell them well enough but I'd estimate about 2% of the population possesses this skill.
  • "You had to be there" events, as Adams says
  • A youtube video, unless you can actually watch it in a quiet room
  • Hijack the conversation to talk about yourself
  • Interfere with an on-going conversation between funny people
  • Gossip, if you are shitting where you are eating and provoking your partner to wonder what you say about her behind her back.

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