Conversation for dummies

L&S_Conversations for dummies

A beginner’s guide to human interaction

By Julie Wright, Columnist

Have you ever found that some people just don’t understand the art of human interaction? Well I have, and if you haven’t, you probably don’t understand conversation or really anything about humans. And I may find you annoying—sorry. Here’s a handy guide on how to not be like that.

1. Be subtle. If you casually mention something, and the person you’re conversing with picks up on it and carries the conversation, congratulations! You have something in common, and therefore a topic of conversation with this person—go you! If they don’t, there’s probably no reason for you to mention it again. Either it’s boring, or they didn’t hear you. It’s probably the former, so just play it safe and start new with someone else.

2. Make connections. If you relate the idea or item you’re talking about to that person’s life, your conversation will be much more interesting for both parties. I promise. For example: you love celery, can’t get enough of the stuff; the other person loves peanut butter, so ask them about ants on a log. That will ultimately lead to cooking, and you’re golden. There are probably a billion recipes in the world, so that conversation could take a while—and that’s not even including desserts.

3. Ask. This one isn’t so much about what you like, but what you probably don’t really care about (especially if you’re heartless like me). Ask them about themselves: where they’re from, how many siblings they have, if they’re a cat or dog person, if they enjoy sloths. For me that one’s a deal breaker for sure. A non-sloth lover won’t get any love from me. If you continue this process, they’ll start to ask you questions and who knows—you may even find that you have something in common.

4. Don’t boast. This one is relative. Obviously if you’ve done something great for humanity—like won the Nobel Prize or saved a species that was on the brink of extinction—that deserves some credit. If you’re just boasting to make yourself feel better, it’s better to stay quiet. It just annoys everyone, and you’ll end up with about 10 Facebook friends who you’ve never met in person. A non-boastworthy achievement would be making your own dinner (unless you’re in college, then congrats, you’re a hero), or taking out the garbage periodically. Those are just things people should do normally to maintain healthy, clean lives.

5. Be pleasant. No one wants to listen to a person who’s mean to them and other people, no matter how riveting their dinner conversation is. You could be talking to a biologist about your idea for bringing back the dinosaurs, which would be fantastic, but if you’re a jerk, the biologist won’t be interested. Also, Jurassic Park was a good example of why we shouldn’t bring dinosaurs back.

And there we have it: five easy tips on how to make conversation without being horribly annoying. Nobody likes “that guy” at the party, and now that person won’t be you! Thank me when people stop doing the slow backwards walk to get away from you.