Yes, and…

I over analyse every interaction I have.

I get annoyed when people cut me off with their puerile observations. I am appreciative when people wait for me to finish before offering their own point-of-view. I hate it when people hijack conversations.

I have become very aware of conversational dynamics. The root cause was attending a workshop called Listen, Think, Speak. The course explained how the quality of your thinking corresponds to how well you are listened to. A good listener can help you delve deeper into your issues and produce creative solutions. Listening attentively involves asking the right questions, showing genuine interest and allowing plenty of time to respond.

The course changed my perspective on conversations. I am more aware of people who make self serving statements, or cut people off rather than letting them explore an idea.

I have been trying to become a better conversationalist. Rather than attempting to lead a conversation I try to let it progress naturally. Rather than waiting for moments where I can interject with my own semi-related anecdotes, I try to listen intently and avoid sharp diversions.

The goal of most conversations with friends is to relax and have fun. When chatting with friends it’s reasonable to make playful, mocking comments. No one wants to get too deep and meaningful.

Some people have a default responses to friendly banter depending on their mood, the topic, or who they are talking to. Some people will be universally affirmative, allowing the conversation to evolve in interesting and odd directions. Some people are overwhelmingly negative and will stifle the conversation.

I have found that the best way to have a fun spontaneous conversation is use the response “yes, and..”.

Consider the following two conversations. Which is the most fun?

A: What’s that bit of plastic?

B: Maybe it’s a land mine.

A: Yeah, a trap set by the evil communist military regime.

B: They’re probably watching us from the trees right now.


A: What’s that bit of plastic?

B: Maybe it’s a land mine.

A: No it’s not.

Constant agreement is an improvisation technique which allows ideas to flow freely and produces funny interactions, a concept I briefly described in this post about improvisation. If two people commit to avoiding self-serving conversational styles and follow playful conversational patterns, their conversations will be a lot more fun.

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One Comment

  1. Mo
    Posted September 2, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Those people who respond negatively suck the life out of everything but it’s usually down to some deep-seated self-loathing. By refusing to allow anyone to have a positive outlook on something they expect others to wallow in their own misery. What’s worse is that they will often hijack the conversation and somehow highlight the amazing situation that they’re in (even when there is no relevance to what you’ve just said). Sounds harsh but the key is getting rid of people who are negative. Your conversations are bound to improve when that person is no longer around.

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