Patterns of Conversation
The patterns of conversation. What do I mean when I'm saying this? Let's actually take a step back and think about how conversation works, why people answer the way they do. It's a question/statement, it's a question/statement. It's just bouncing off each other, that's all it really is when you break it down to a basic level. Patterns are reproducible and they have predictable results. So what does that mean? It means that we're more predictable than we think, and this is for a few reasons. Okay, common habits, desires, human psychology, a couple more that aren't on there, that are not on there, emotions, instincts, so we reply to people and we talk to people based on these habits, these desires, and even psychology and emotions. I'll get into it a little deeper here, what conversation patterns arise? Unfortunately, they're mostly negative, but we can really take advantage of these, can't we. So what do we know about other people? We're selfish, we're self-interested, we're lazy, we ta...
ke the path of least resistance when it's available. Why wouldn't we, right? That's what we're trying to do and in conversation we're trying to have a good time, we're trying to have fun. Why wouldn't we do this? Why wouldn't we be entertained, get what we want, and not have to work hard? It's always the goal, right. Sounds fun to me. Okay, so we have all this knowledge, what does this mean for us conversationally? What do we do with it? Twofold, and it actually is very simple. No matter what people appear to be talking about, no matter what question they ask you, no matter if they ask for feedback, no matter if they're ranting at you, number one, they want to be entertained, that's all they want. We engage in conversation for very few reasons actually, especially social conversation, entertainment, information, utility, health, fun, bonding, these are all sort of the same thing, entertainment. And number two, we just don't want to work that hard. Have you ever spoken to someone where it feels like you're talking to like a brick wall? How do you feel about that? It's terrible. So why would we want to deal with that? We don't. What that really boils down to is this. Two to one, if they ask you a question, they just want to hear something engaging versus the literal answer, and that's really the big lesson of this lesson is that do not answer things literally, because they don't care about that, they want the engaging answer. Do you care when Nancy asks you Monday morning, do you care about these questions? And then, of course, you have to ask her, right, because how about you. How are you doing? How's your day going? How was your weekend? How's work? How's your family? What do you have planned for the weekend? I don't care about these. (chuckles) Let's be honest. You know what, when and if I would care about these is if I'm involved somehow. What are we doing this weekend? How is our work project going? How is your fa, I guess if we're married, how is your family, how's our family? What do you have planned for the weekend for us? That's the only time we care about that. People are just begging to hear something interesting to interrupt the monotony of their day, their conversations, their other small talk conversations. So just give it to them. Prevent an exchange of how about yous, and kind of like a Jerry Maguire moment, it's just help me, you know help me help you, help them, help me help you, that's right. So how do we do this? We have all this knowledge again, what are we gonna do with it? We're gonna use these patterns to answer those questions in ways that are, number one, not literal, we talked about that a little bit. Number two, interesting, it's subjective, but just think about what's noteworthy, that's a good place to start. What's noteworthy to mention to someone? Number three, it's gonna be able to provide a direction, so as you saw with Chris, I redirected to something that was about me breaking my leg, and that provides a very clear direction because that's almost a topic that you cannot not comment on, and that skips a small talk exchange. Number four, and this is a really important part, allows you to curate your image, however you want to be perceived, you can be perceived that way, because you can prepare answers that are about that. If you want to be perceived as an outdoorsy, sportsy person, guess what you prepare answers based on? You prepare them based on these things, these adjectives, these activities, it allows you to make the impression that you want to make with other people. And finally, it allows preparation beforehand. A lot of the worry with conversation is that it's, you know, you have to be witty, you have to be quick, you have to be clever, you have to think on your feet. That's really the big, one of the big Achilles heels for people is that they feel like they can't be put on the spot, they can't think on their feet. So when you can prepare answers to these questions in these ways, you can prepare beforehand. You can walk into a conversation, you can know the first five to 10 conversation topics that will come up, you can have prepared answers, that's a pretty good start, it's almost like having a script going into conversation. It's very helpful, it helps your confidence. Here's an even easier way to say it. This is maybe the easiest breakdown. Mentally rephrase that they asked you, "Hey, can you just tell me something interesting "about you or your life?" Just keep it simple, that's all, that's all they're interested in knowing, that's all they're asking you. As opposed to, "How was your weekend?" Literal answer, "Well you know, I played about eight hours "of video games, I went to Costco for lunch, "made a couple rounds, ate some samples, it's pretty good, "got a lot of cheese." (light laughs) Honesty doesn't pay here, sorry. Where we going? There's a few techniques to be interesting, to be non-literal, and the first one is to answer a fuzzy version of the question. So a fuzzy version being, mmm I didn't quite hear you, but you kind of got the gist. For example, "How was your weekend?" The fuzzy version of that question turns into, something, something, something, weekend. Tell me about a weekend. So that's what you do here is, "I actually didn't do too much this weekend, "but I needed to relax because last month I, you know, "hiked about 20 miles, went hiked, hmm, "I hiked about 20 miles and almost broke my foot." So you're answering the question, but not directly, a fuzzy version of it, something, something, weekend. Number two, interesting technique, completely redirect to another prompt. That's where you just forget it, based on this knowledge that they don't care, I don't care, why are we talking about this? Just redirect to another prompt that is interesting, hopefully for the both of you, at least one of you. What does that look like? That looks like, "How was your weekend?" "Normal, didn't do anything. "But did you see the news this morning? "They're making a new Back to the Future movie. "Obviously Michael J. Fox will not be in it," but that's where you completely redirect to something else because don't care about the weekend. See what we can do, when we have these assumptions, basically it gives you a framework on how to answer people. Number three, you redirect again, to a mini story, so you see a theme here, we're always redirecting because the literal answer is not what we want. "How was your weekend?" Here's the mini story, it's probably about you, you can borrow your friends' stories, here's just a short one, you generally make them 10 to 15 seconds, "Decent, but I need to tell you what happened to my mom. "She was harassed and threatened by fake IRA," oh that's not right, IRS, "workers over the phone all week, "and she had to change her phone number "after I caught her almost giving them money "from a iTunes gift card. "Have you heard of this?" So, right, so that's another way to redirect, into a mini story, so you have those three ways to make your, to get a non-literal answer. What other questions can you prepare to give your conversations directions? It's pretty easy to think about, right? We kinda listed them. Weekend, work, how's your family, what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm sure we can think of a lot more, depends on where you work, depends on where you encounter people, depends on your context, but you can have, you know the structure, you know the patterns of conversation, so you can prepare for them beforehand. Now it's exercise time. I promise they're easy, I'll step in. Do we have any volunteers? Okay, yeah, please, please.
Come on up.
Yes you. Thanks for volunteering. (applauds)
Can I clap for myself?
You can. So what we're gonna do here, I call this spin city, we're gonna help you redirect to find good answers for, "How was your weekend?" Pretty simple, right, so, if I was to ask you, just off the cuff of your head, off the top of your head, "How was your weekend?"
Pretty uneventful, I didn't do all too much, just a little bit of reading.
Okay, okay, so let's think about the fuzzy version. So when we're thinking about the fuzzy version, we're redirecting to a weekend. Why don't I ask you this question? Pretend I asked you, "What is the most interesting thing "or things you did over the past month on a weekend?"
Can I be creative?
Lie, you mean lie? Yeah, yeah, whatever you want.
I could say something like, "Oh damn, I went to Vegas, "and I got drunk and I almost got married."
That's a good story. (laughs) That gives it direction, I want to ask about that. But, you gotta move on, okay, so that's good. So now how do you redirect to another prompt? So instead of the version that you gave, what, how can you redirect to? So another prompt being something you read, something you heard, something maybe in the news, something that is just noteworthy to you, not necessarily even about you. So again, how was your weekend, and then you're redirecting to another prompt.
The weekend was decent, but I went to Napa, we went to my mom's favorite vineyard, we had some drink, and then I got drunk, and I almost got married.
Oh, okay. (laughs) You can't even help it, yeah. Good, that's a great way to do it. I think I know what your mini story's gonna be about. Yeah, so I guess that actually is kind of a mini story. So the point is that there's a lot you can do to prepare beforehand, if you just think about it, these three ways, and then you have a much better answer, I don't know if it's true or not, you have a much better answer than versus if you just don't think about it, and you answer kinda shooting from the hip, and you come up with, "I ate Cheetos and watched Lord of the Rings."
Yeah, okay, that was it.
So it's easy, right, so thank you.
The guiding principle that we know is people are self-interested, they want to be entertained, they don't want to be bored, they also don't want to work hard, so capitalize on this pattern and prepare these answers, or at least keep this in mind when you're answering people or asking other questions to people. Whatever your actual conversational goal is, and this is where the greasy crowbar comes into play again, you want to make more money, you want to make sales, you want to make revenue, the first goal of creating a good interaction, that's what really matters, because without that, nothing else happens. And when you have that, everything else will flow naturally.