1. Use Less “I Talk”
“I Talk” means talking about yourself. Using too much “I Talk” turns a conversation into a one-way street of self-absorbed bullshit. It’s worse when two people are doing it.
Guy: I have so many assignments to do this week.
Girl: Yea me too. I have three which are all due on Friday.
Guy: O that sucks. I have a mid-term to study for as well.
Girl: Yea me too, I have a midterm next week. All long answer questions.
Guy: I hate long answer questions.
Girl: Yea I like multiple choice better.
It’s easy to tell by reading this that both people don’t seem to care about what the other person has to say. They are simply waiting their turn to say how they feel about a subject instead of engaging with the other person. This is the least form of listening.
The best people to have conversations with are people that listen, people that ask questions, and people that say “you” instead of “I”. You should become one of these people. You might already be. That’s awesome. If you’re not, then try not using the word “I” for an entire day. This will force you to listen, force you to ask questions, and force you stop thinking about yourself for a god damn minute. You might find this exercise makes conversation difficult. Good. It might be impossible to hold a conversation without saying “I”. Good. You’re learning. Once you have mastered listening and cut back on the “I Talk”, it’s absolutely ok to talk about yourself sometimes. A good conversation is one that includes a balance of “You Talk” and “I Talk.”
2. Don’t Make References to Things People Don’t Know About
Making references to TV shows, movies, etc. that the other person doesn’t know about creates distance in a conversation. Has anyone ever quoted a funny movie that you haven’t seen? It’s not funny because you don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. It could be the funniest quote from the funniest movie of all time, but if that other person hasn’t seen that movie then they don’t give a shit. If the other person says they don’t know the thing you’re referencing then stop talking about it. Don’t say “O my god there’s this one part where…”
No matter how well you describe that one part, the other person still hasn’t seen it. The other person still doesn’t give a shit.
3. Don’t Text and Talk
It’s rude. You don’t like it when other people do it to you, so don’t do it to other people. If someone is texting while trying to hold a conversation with you, teach them a lesson. Pull out your phone and call them. When they answer it politely say, “Hey you weren’t listening to me because you were texting, but now you can’t text. What’s up?”
4. Don’t Start Sentences With Bro-Filler Words
Starting sentences with bro-filler words makes you sound repetitive and boring. Here are a few examples of bro-filler words.
Try eliminating these words and simply start your sentence with the real thing you wanted to say.
5. Don’t Laugh Out of Politeness
Laughing out of politeness makes the other person think that what they have said was funny. Then they go on saying these sorts of things even though they aren’t funny. This isn’t helping them. If you really want to help them, don’t laugh. This will teach them that what they have said was indeed not funny and they will learn from it. Yes, there may be some awkward silences. Yes, people might think you’re weird. But it’s actually very enjoyable not to laugh out of politeness. It feels refreshing. And the look on the other person’s face is priceless.