I had a friend over yesterday, and one of the things we talked about was the fact that when we talk to each other, it’s more like she’s interviewing me than a conversation. Now, I am well aware that I am not very good at conversing with people, and this is especially the case in group situations. I’ve never really discovered how to combat this, however. And this is not to say I don’t know people very well, either. There are a lot of people I know extremely well.
While I was in bed last night, I was thinking a lot about how I expect conversations to go. And I realised that my most successful conversations where both people find out about each other usually entail relating personal experiences to what the other person is saying about themselves. I don’t expect to have to ask someone a question to find out about them, I expect them to just tell me. So a successful conversation with me might go something like this:
Me: I’m going to the US later this year. We’re planning on visiting my family.
You: That’s interesting! I have family in the UK. I like travelling to visit family too.
Me: Oh yeah? Where in the UK? I’ve been to London, Edinburgh and Belfast.
You: They live around Manchester and Birmingham mostly.
Me: Oh right. I don’t know much about those places. I know that ManU is quite popular, though, and I’ve seen David Beckham playing soccer in Madrid.
You: I’m not particularly fond of soccer myself. I prefer cricket. Shane Warne is a bit annoying though, isn’t he?
Me: Yeah, he gets too much media attention.
I’m not suggesting there is a right or wrong way to have a conversation, just noting how the most successful conversations I’ve had tend to run. I am also generally not the type of person to start a conversation (I don’t know how!) so I’ll usually wait for someone else to start one with me.
But by far the absolute best way I can get to know someone is if they have a blog and share details about themselves and their lives in there. My closest female friend is someone I have mostly been conversing with on a blog/journal site since 2001.
So if you’re someone else who has struggled to hold a conversation with me and/or found it hard to reveal yourself to me, maybe you could think about what I’ve said and adapt, or let me know you find it hard and tell me how you think I should improve myself. I’m not going to know how to improve without being told!