enhancing conversational capabilities

If you haven't been making any new friends lately, you might be getting tired of what your current entourage has to say.

After years of sticking with the same crew, your interests and knowledge become a communal well. A meld of all your histories, memories and a peppering of the more resonant lessons ingested through some form of higher education or training.

There is something romantic about this melding experience. You will likely not be caught off guard by friends wine induced rants - political or otherwise - but you could just as easily have these conversations and debates in your head because, you are that familiar with the opinions and contents of your compatriots minds.

In this age of customization - where you can create your own cell phone plan and design your own jeans - can we customize our friends?

Being that the winter is coming and therefore that we wont be going outside as much to get a new batch of friends I think its time we explore options for making existing relationships more interesting.

So firstly, the big question is, what makes people interesting? And why do we run out of new things to talk about?

I often look back at the years of one off projects and independent studies and wonder where that information went.
For an entire weekend, a month or a semester, your whole life revolved around -insert completely random noun here - eg Jupiter.
Suddenly an astronaut. Fluent in the language of the solar system. Jupiter is the largest planet , 5th from the sun, and belongs to a subset of planets referred to as "Jovian" (the gas giant planets).
Then you handed in your report, gave your presentation, and immediately replaced that expertise with an equal or greater amount of information about the African snow leopard, muscular dystrophy, Fiji, or Che Guevera.

Later in life we seem to lose our enthusiasm for knowledge for the sake of it.
But its these very kinds of projects, and the substance and insight they provide that make some people more interesting than the rest.

So how can you broaden the scope of knowledge, and thus conversational capabilities, your current playmates represent to better resemble that of the crew you rolled with in elementary school? Well short of heading to your local PS and risking arrest when striking up conversation with tots at recess, you are going to have to force feed em content.

The way I look at it, this can be achieved passively or actively.

A more covert approach would be littering ones coffee table with books on an array of topics that you find interesting and want to know more about. Rather than read them yourself (as you are clearly too busy on the interwebs than to spend any time self-improving) the strategy is to leave them on the table - topics of highest interest at the top of the pile - and ensure that whenever a friend pops in, they are left waiting. I am confident curiosity will prevail. From down the hall the delicate sounds of pages flipping will signify the likelihood of new and shared conversational content for your rendezvous.

Although a seemingly passive approach, provided distractions like TV, blackberries or iphones( who on earth could read a book with an iphone within reach) are removed from the environment, this experiment will likely bear fruit in the form of periodic fact injections into your otherwise predictable repartee.

This will likely yield noticeable results faster than enduring the lengthy process of encouraging companions to go back to school or take up a hobby and then hoping that those experiences will translate into captivating conversation.

Alternatively, a more active strategy can be applied.

Start setting parameters and expectations and be vocal about it. A la “ I am going to need you to learn a little more about how airplanes work” or “what is it about yoko onos work that classifies it as art”. Explain specific objectives and expectations and ensure there is no doubling up - or you will just end up where you started.
These kinds of parameters are difficult to justify and some might say beyond reasonable expectation. So, if this doesn't alienate, you know two things right away. 1. you are a dick . and 2. your friends are already awesome so stop trying to change them.

No matter what strategy you apply, I think its fair to say that everybody wins. Your friends will be smarter and hopefully so will you. But if not, at least nobody loses. Except maybe you as you sit friendless and dumb.

Perhaps you should take stock of the quality of your personal contribution before implementing...

No comments:

Post a Comment