16 November 2011

Link of the day: How to be a good conversationalist

I recently read an outstanding post about "The Art of Conversation: How to Avoid Conversational Narcissism. The authors deconstruct how conversations work. A good conversation has give and take. You try to grab the other person's attention sometimes and other times you support that person. I found this post really useful because my social skills aren't the best. Between being glued to the computer and writing electronic messages, I don't have enough social contact to practice. It's good to be reminded of what we should and shouldn't do in conversations.

According to researcher Charles Derber, one can answer a statement with either a shift-response or a support-response. An example of a shift-response would be changing topics to put the focus on yourself. An example of a support-response is to ask a followup question related to what the person said. A good conversationalist will answer with more support-responses whereas a conversational narcissist will keep throwing out shift-responses until the other person gives in. Conversational narcissism can be even more subtle. The narcissist can withhold support-responses or providing minimal acknowledgement ("uh huh") until the other person feels like they are being boring and allows the narcissist to take the floor.  My discussion is abstract, so read the post to see some good examples.

The point is not to rail about the conversational narcissists you've wasted your time on, but to recognize how easy it is to be a narcissist yourself. We should be careful about our speech and strive towards sharing a good conversation.

No comments:

Post a Comment