Building Conversation

I can remember sitting at the cafeteria tables with my high school friends listening to spirited conversation about fashion, music or relationships while I nodded my head and smiled between bites of my lunch.

I wanted to appear interested eventhough I hadn’t a clue what to say. Although my mind was chatting away – I really don’t care about what dresses Jane wears….Spiro Gyra – that’s a band name not a ride at Cedar Point? – nothing seemed to come out of my mouth. I was stuck.

Today, dinner parties, some networking luncheons and other social engagements lead me to feeling the same thing. Often the conversation is around topics which mean little to me. At these times I could use some guidance on how to build conversation, in meaningful ways.

In yesterday’s post, E. F. Hutton moments, I shared the idea that the quiet leaders often say very little. We introverts don’t need to keep up with extroverts on the quantity of participation in conversation . We want to be purposeful and valuable. In so doing, we simply want to know how to participate in meaningful ways while many around us simply add superficial comments.

Of late the following three tips on building conversation have served me well:

  1. Offer an observation based on what you have just witnessed, read or experienced. We introverts spend much of our time thinking and supply this activity with fuel from observation and reading. In addition, we reflect over our experiences and would relish getting feedback.
  2. Ask a question that seeks information about an opinion, instruction, etc. This is a natural direction for us to take. We introverts help others out by getting more information for others to reflect on.
  3. Share an opinion or idea with the listeners. Although this is often the last in our means of contributing, it is quite often the most important. As thinkers, we introverts can share perspective others are not considering.

It may not be surprising that the rich parts of conversation come from us introverts, at least if we actively build ourselves into it.

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    On November 30th, 2011, posted in: controlling conversation, introverts, meaning by