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evanchaney's avatar

What are the principles of great conversation? What are some great books on the subject?

Asked by evanchaney (34 points ) July 25th, 2008 from iPhone

I can talk to people, but I lack the skill to surprise and delight strangers with my ability to relate to them. I want to change that. Teach me about the principles of conversing with someone you don’t know. How do you connect with them without knowing much about them. What are some great books on conversation and the principles, purpose and benefits of conversing with others?

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9 Answers

wildflower's avatar

The key is listening. It really is that simple. If you want to connect to the person you’re talking with; listen to what they have to say and relate to it, whether it’s personal experience, something you read, saw on telly, or even just opinion.
The basic principle of a good conversation is; listen to each other and let what the other one says influence what you will say next. This way the conversation evolves and comes to life – in a manner of speaking.

Harp's avatar

People love to talk about themselves. Anything you can do to show interest in their story will get them to open up to you. There has to be a certain amount of trust before probing too deeply, of course, so start with general, non-intrusive questions that allow your interlocutor to choose how much to reveal, then expand as appropriate. Listen carefully, as wildflower said, and genuinely try to understand that person’s point of view.

Resist urges to turn the conversation around to you, unless your interlocutor moves in that direction (then keep a careful lookout for signs that he/she is losing interest).

SuperMouse's avatar

I’m with Harp, ask questions – and Wildflower, listen to the answers. I find that when I talk to people about their interests they are anxious to share. It is amazing how easily conversation flows after that.

marinelife's avatar

My peeps here have said it all. To respond about books and reinforce what they told you, try this title.

Knotmyday's avatar

Also, be aware of what your body language is saying. Janine Driver is an expert on the subject, and a really neat person too. I like Janine

kevbo's avatar

There’s also a book called The Art of Friendship, which speaks to principles of casual conversation and being open to new friendships that might be worth a look.

evanchaney's avatar

@kevbo Have you read The Art of Friendship?

kevbo's avatar

I’ve read some of it, and it’s on my list of things to read. It has mixed reviews on Amazon (Actually, there are two books by this title. The one I have is by Horchow.) It’s 70 “rules” plus a page or two on each. #1 Reach out to someone you don’t know. #21 Find the Balance. #40 Think small but sincere. #53 Transform a passive contact into a friend. #61 Don’t keep score. #68 Walk away.

One main point of the book is that friends don’t have to be BFFs. They can be friends around activities (tennis, e.g.) or friends for the duration of a plane flight. Sort of takes the pressure off and lets you experiment with different kinds of friendship (and therefore different kinds of conversation).

Hopefully that tracks with your question.

gamefu91's avatar

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.I haven’t read it yet but will do so once my exams get over.If anyone over here has read it,how was it ?

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