Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Art of Conversation

Do not tell all you know.

In this increasingly self-confessional world there is a tendency to try to tell all. Do not be fooled, the person who tells all is a bore. Mystery and discovery is what draws people in.

Reality TV might seem to show all, but what you are actually seeing is a carefully edited collection of the most interesting moments. This is actually the same trick one uses for conversation, you take all your thoughts and ideas and with your understanding of the audience at hand you edit it down to the thing that is most likely to engage them.

This means you don't share everything, and you keep your unedited footage to yourself. This is sometimes objected to by small minded people as a form of dishonestly.

I have no patience for people who try to equate this courtesy with dishonesty. Really, get over yourself. Despite what you might think I am really not interested in every thought that crosses you mind. I know you are not interested in all of the nonsense in my raw footage.

Show your respect for your audience. Pay attention to what they say and then carefully select a small idea, anecdote or other reflection that seem likely to amuse that person. This is the way you show that you are talking but interested in the person you are talking to. It is not always easy at first, but communicating with a focus on the person you are talking to gets easier with practice.