The Art of Conversation

Ever woken up in the morning and been sad because you realized what happened in your dream didn’t actually happen in real life?  That was me this morning.

I was partly shocked was because the dream was so realistic.  I mean, usually you’re dreaming about something random like looking out from a ship run aground and you step out of the ship and find the ship is small enough that you can pick it up with one hand.  Or if you’re dreaming about something mundane like work you end up riding home through traffc on ostriches.  The only unrealistic thing about last night’s dream was that at one point a colleague that I’m on a search committee with but never see elsewhere made a brief appearance, asking me a question.

I dreamed about a kind, funny, and cute gentleman.  And in my dream we just talked and talked.  Effortlessly.  About deep and interesting topics.

What was I more sad about?  That I haven’t actually wooed or been wooed by a fella like this?  Or that I woke up and realized I still stink at small talk?

Probably equal amounts.

If I’m going to talk about something, it needs to be a presentation or a speech, or I need to be teaching something.  That, I can do.  Fear of public speaking?  I don’t have it.  But even though I can talk I also love listening to others talk.  The problem is that I’m not good at asking interesting questions for people to answer.  My conversation usually goes along the lines of, “What did you do last weekend?…  Oh, that sounds fun.”

I envy people who can turn their deep thoughts into conversation.  I sat next to a friend last night who is great at asking probing questions.  Another friend (who is an EMT paramedic) was telling us about a difficult call he responded to (in which he literally brought a man back to life) and she asked, “How do you feel in those types of situations?  How do you focus?”

Wow, I rarely think to ask things like how people feel.  Or if I do, it comes across as intrusive rather than genuine.

This is one reason I love Sunday school.  Small talk with kindergarteners and first graders is effortless because I can ask random strings of questions and they don’t see (or care) that there isn’t the slightest thread of connection.  “What your favorite color?  Did you go swimming this summer?  How many kids are in your class?  When’s your birthday?  Did you pick that outfit out yourself?  Should I color this kite green or orange?”

I rock at K1 small talk.  But the art of adult conversation?  I don’t have it.  Kind of like the art of wrapping up blog posts.

Anyone out there have any suggestions on how to become better at conversation?

Picture found here.

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3 Responses to The Art of Conversation

  1. When all else fails, email conversations are excellent ways to practice. You have more time in between responses and can think of something silly.

    And very good fun when wooing a partner. Because bravery comes with the written word.

    • Alissa says:

      Silliness (and sarcasm) usually come to me naturally, but I definitely agree that the time-delayed format of e-mail is a great excuse to think of something substantive or salient to say.

  2. Pingback: “What drives you?” « Content but not Complacent

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