Tactics For Conversational Flow
Now we're just gonna get right back into the thick of it with tactics for conversational flow. So, the first thing we need to do, obviously, is define what conversational flow, what that is, what that means to you, how to achieve it. Conversational flow, the way that I like to think about it is when you identify the primary emotion, the tone, the message of an interaction; what someone's trying to say to you at the base level. If you can't find it, that basically means that you're gonna connect. You won't be able to connect below surface level. You won't be able to connect emotionally. It's like someone's telling you a story, how they went skiing with their estranged father. Missing the conversational flow is: "Really, how was the snow? "Tell me about the snow. "What gear of skis did you buy?" Because that's not what it's about. That's not the primary emotion, tone or message, or purpose of that interaction or message, and that's missing the flow. People choose topics because they are ...
emotionally invested in some way, no matter how small, no matter how big. And just simply being interested in the topic, or thinking, "I wanna talk about this. I have something "to say about this", that's an emotional investment. That's a piece of conversational flow that you have to think about when someone is saying something to you. The overall message is to stay on that primary emotion, try to identify it. This goes back to our conversation, or this goes back to our emotional intelligence lesson. Try to identify it based on their cues, based on the primary emotion that they're thinking about. Don't get caught in the details. Don't get caught thinking about skis when someone's trying to talk about a reunited family. Conversational flow is also about staying on topic and creating nonstop flowing banter. That's also one of the goals that we always have when we're talking about conversation, right? We wanna create this positive feeling, where it's just back and forth. It's like a Gilmore Girls episode. It's just chatter, chatter, chatter, in a good way, in a good way. In the sense that, you guys are connecting, you're on the same level, you're on the same wavelength. It's a positive feeling. And I gotta tell you, even though that's not really the hallmark of a good interaction, people think it is. People think it is. Just like with eye contact; not having eye contact doesn't mean you're distrust or dishonest or that you're shady, or that you're trying to do something that's underhanded. But that's what people assume. So, it's the same thing here. If you can try to create that non-stop flowing banter, you give people that same positive feeling. What are these ways that we can create this conversational flow? First of all, find it. Second of all, create it. Number one, yes, and... That might be familiar to some of you guys. Conversation threading, number two. And number three, just "What were you saying?" We'll get into all these. Yes, and... So, the reason I say this might be familiar to some of you is because it's a very... It's a semi, relatively, widely known rule of improv comedy. When you take a step back and think about it, improv comedy, conversation; it's exactly the same goal. It's exactly the same type of interaction. We just don't think about it that way. Improv comedy; you're trying to create a great scene by collaborating, working together, and doing it together. Conversation; you're trying to do the same thing. You're trying to create that great interaction, but you just don't think about it, so you don't work together, or collaborate, with the other person. Often, you just actually disregard the other person. Imagine what would happen in an improv scene, in an acting scene or in theater, if people weren't okay doing that. If people didn't think, "I need to work with this person to create this." They went on their own tangents. They didn't abandon their own ideas. It would just be like this, and it would be a scene that no one would enjoy. It would be, actually, it would be terrible to watch. That's the way we feel about conversation sometimes, right? It's like, "This person doesn't understand me. "They're not listening to me. "There's no flow here. "They don't get it. I don't get it." As I said, it's a mindset taken from improv comedy to essentially always agree with your conversation partner and add to the flow. What that really means, and this is more of a mindset than something to put into practice with phrases. Listen better. Listen to what they're saying. Don't outright contradict them. If you can, agree with them, go with their flow, and add something to it. At the very least, don't contradict. Because what happens when you hear no? You get defensive, stops conversation flow, ships pass in the night. It just doesn't work out that way. This is my favorite part of this lesson; conversation threading. I want you guys to all think of a sentence as a piece of rope. Each element is a thread that can lead to another topic; so, conversation threading. You're gonna make a statement that contains A, B, C, and D. A, B, C, and D are all separate threads that can lead to another topic, to another complete conversation essentially. How was A, how is B, how is C, how is D, D, D, D. Here's how this basically plays out. I understand that it's also another way of dissecting conversations that you might not have thought of before. So, "I went skiing last weekend with my brother "and almost broke my leg." So, this is a very rich, very fertile sentence, as a response to get to someone. If you feel like you don't have things to talk to with other people, you feel like you weren't getting much help from other people, they aren't giving you anything, think again, because in this short, one, two, three, four, I don't know, 12 word sentence, there's four separate threads that you go on and easily ask about. This is also a good place for you to think about "Oh my gosh, do I leave threads? "Do I leave hooks for other people? "Am I, essentially, difficult or easy to talk to?" If someone was to ask me what I did last weekend, would I even get past A? Can I give A, B, C, and D?" This lesson is also about how you should reply to others as well as how you can take other's elements. Exercise time. And we got a new guy in here for the afternoon. Sorry, we're gonna bring you up.
Okay. All right.
And can we get the white board?
Manny. Hey nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you too.
Thanks for coming up. What brings you here? What made you late?
What made me late? I was actually working last night, and I was supposed to go in for a little workshop this morning, but I did not there was some sort of like pre-exercise I needed to do in order to go to the workshop. But since I didn't bring the certificate, they said I couldn't go. So, I had spent the morning just doing that.
Dealing with that, okay. Great, well, thanks for being here. What we're gonna do. Where's the pen at? What we're gonna do, plant right here please. What we're gonna do is conversation threading. First, we're gonna make sure that you are really giving us something to work with. What I mean by that is you are giving the other person who's asking you any questions a fertile statement that they can do something with. We start with the favorite question of the day that I have asked 100 times already; how was your weekend? Keeping A, B, C, D in mind, how was your weekend?
Over the weekend I worked. (laughing)
Okay, go on.
Over the weekend I worked at the hospital.
It can be about working. So, make it easy for me, right? Make it easy for me.
Let's see. Well, I can share something. Over the weekend I've been experimenting with types of foods I'm eating, and I actually have a continuous glucose monitor that I've been testing out. So, I've been kind of watching my blood sugars on a continuous time line.
Okay, that's good, okay. One, two, three, four. What else do you have to add?
Oh, I thought that each of those things had like, maybe threads...
Well, it does. It does. When we're asking just a general statement, how was your weekend? Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom. A, B, C, and D in just one sentence. We're just trying to draw the elements right now. It can be about work.
Let's see. Well, on Sunday, I had a really big cheat day and I ate at a Chinese restaurant, big bowl of noodles with glazed pork. A big bowl of rice with duck. I also had a boba in addition to an ice cream sandwich. (laughing)
That is a good amount of detail. I appreciate that. So, why don't we, can you just real quick, put these all into one sentence?
Oh my gosh, okay.
Short sentence, if possible. I worked a lot but...
I worked a lot, but I've been experimenting with various foods, and... I worked a lot, but on my cheat day, I was experimenting with a lot of foods including eating Chinese food, ice cream, and measuring my blood sugars at the same time.
That's great. The purpose of that is to make sure that when you give a fertile answer, you also don't drone on and ramble basically, right? So, you know what the big points are with all these, so just smoosh them all into one sentence, and that's a very, that's a really good fertile answer that I can do something with. Now, what we talk about is where we go with these threads. I should have done this differently. Then you think about what threads can you make of these? What dish? What flavor? What restaurant? Let's see, for cheat day, favorite cheat foods. Favorites. What's your diet? What's that related to? For glucose, work, fun, why? The natural question. Work, what do you do? Occupation, I should have wrote job. Occupation, job, where, how much? Because if you work on the weekend, you obviously have some sort of strenuous schedule. One, two, three, four, five, I don't know, let's call it ten-ish just off writing. There's ten ways that we can basically reply to that conversation just through these threads alone. So, now I want you to give me another one. I'll ask you another question, and let's work on constructing a good, detailed response. Not too detailed, but fertile, and then we'll go through what we can draw out of that. Okay?
That was interesting distinction about fertile versus...
It's an important distinction to make, right? Because you wanna say what you wanna say, but you also have to keep engagement and attention. What would be a good question to ask him?
Tell me about your morning.
Tell me about your morning. Perfect.
So, I was actually working last night, I mean, I gotta construct one sentence?
One sentence, all right. I mean, you can talk it out right now if you want. We're looking for four... At least three points.
At my job, I work overnight, but I do get some hours where I can go into a call room and take a nap. So, this morning, I was able again in a couple hours. (laughing) Man, this is hard.
That was a story about a nap. (laughing) I mean, here's the thing.
Maybe I need to be more emotionally invested.
No, no, no, it's just what else did you do this morning? What's related to the nap? Where was it? Was it at work? Who was it with? I don't know. It's just, what, who, well...
Interesting last night, there was an admission where there was this man who had really bad diverticulitis, and I was going to see him this morning to make sure that he doesn't have significant abdominal pains, and I think it was a really good engagement with him because he was obviously in a lot of pain and I was trying to empathize with the level of pain and how serious it was.
Okay, that's good, that's good.
Yes, I got something.
Alright anything else that comes to mind, kind of a distinct thing to talk about. Or just a distinct element. Like something notable about the nap, something notable about the patient, maybe the pain?
Okay, so I guess for the pain, I think part of it was there's really sharpness in his right lower quadrant, but at the same time, he was like, very gassy and distended. So, I was really trying to find ways that I could relieve his suffering. That's probably saying the same thing, the whole dealing with the pain.
What we're doing is, can I ask a question about that?
Yeah, that's true.
That's what we're doing here right? So, it's actually a lot...
It's almost like finding something that gets more relatable on a general sense, right? Because otherwise...
It's harder than it seems, as you can see. One more thing, maybe about the nap. Just think, maybe that's the question, right? What can I ask? Can someone else relate to this? What can they ask of me about this? I'm gonna get some water.
Okay, well, let's see. Last night, I, I'm currently on a diet strategy, where I'm fasting, so my last meal was last night, I had two Greek yogurts and I plan on breaking my fast tomorrow morning at breakfast.
Perfect. Can we put that in to one sentence?
I am currently doing a 36 hour fast, where I cannot eat anything until...
All of this, I mean.
The question being, how did, what did you spend your morning doing? How was your morning? That's how we got here.
That's how we got here. That's more to answer. After I saw the patient at the hospital, I decided to take a little nap, and throughout the morning, I've been checking my sugars because I've been fasting. Well, that's...
That feels pretty good.
Well, I don't know, I feel like it's kind of interesting that I'm trying to engage, but at the same time being observed. So, there's a little bit of element about that.
You're engaging in a particular way, right? You're giving people something to ask about, something to talk about, but you're also not overpowering them with detail.
Can I, If I were to say, like someone asked me how my night was. If I was like, "I went to yoga, and then I went "and saw this amazing new movie called Moonlight, "where I cried a little bit, "and then I went home and chattered with "my new roommate about boys." Could it just be, like is that too general, too simple, or is that?
That was like four, yeah.
I think one of the difficult things is trying to summarize it all into one sentence. It's almost like a one liner about what happened last night. Sometimes I feel like I don't know if it's something I need to work on, but naturally sometimes I break it into small pieces, instead of just saying "Oh this is what I did last night," I'm developing some sort of temporal story or something. I don't know, or maybe I'm just rambling.
No, it's fine. I guess what we covered is like, one of the, I'm actually glad to bring you up because you weren't here in the morning to emphasize that. What we're doing is we're trying to make sure that what we're talking about is number one, engaging. Number two is relatable, and number three is, what is that rule? It's not about the literal answer.
It's about the emotion and the feeling.
Sure, it's about all that, if it's engaging. So one of the big lessons from earlier was that we don't answer these questions in a literal way. Because people don't care about the literal answer. They just want something short and snappy. Kind of short, yeah. It's good, you did a good job. (laughing) (applause) Okay, but, just to make him feel better, does anyone else wanna come up? I know, I know. I would love to have someone else come up though, if I can get a volunteer. Yeah, please, just so we can think about this. Is this blank, yeah, let's just go with this. Alright, anyone in the audience got a question?
What are you doing with today?
Nice. Okay, all right, go ahead.
Ready? I'm waking up. I'm gonna spend the night at my parent's house, and I'll be waking up at my parent's house, waiting for my family to come; cousins, sisters, aunts and uncles, driving up from San Diego, or driving up from Southern California, and then we're gonna eat a bunch of food together, at the dinner table, that's made out of mahogany.
Mahogany and leather?
That my father made.
Did he? That would work if he made it. It's good, it's good. Let's add one more, just one more part of that, it's not even about, it doesn't have to be a distinct thing, it's just something that I can ask about, right?
So, parents, spending the night at my parent's house, waking up, family coming up from Southern California. I'm gonna eat a bunch of food. And then, what was that?
Maybe say where they're from?
From San Diego and Los Angeles, and San Luis Obispo. And I'm excited to see my sister because she just got engaged to one of my best friends.
Nice, that's perfect.
And we're gonna eat on the table that my dad made out of mahogany. (laughing)
That's great. See, that's an interesting I mean, that's a big detail to have left out right? But yeah, can we just smoosh all these into one sentence, one statement now?
Yeah, I'm excited to wake up at my parent's house, where I actually grew up, and then have all my family come to the house and celebrate with them because I haven't seen them in a while and they're coming from southern California. Especially, my sister who just was recently engaged to my best friend, and we're gonna eat a bunch of food.
On the table.
Made out of wood?
Yeah, Grandfather made it this time. Let's get one more in. This is good, good practice. Anyone else got a question?
I wanna know more about this table.
You called my bluff. (laughing)
Okay, question being, let's see, you used to be here. What are you spending your time... What have you been doing your past two weeks after leaving Creative Life?
The past two weeks, I have been focusing... Alright, let me back up. The past two weeks, yeah, I been focusing on my other clients. It's a nice time to focus on them, because one of my clients... I need to make it shorter. One of my clients has a license for The Fantastic Beasts, the rights to publish all the Fantastic Beast books, and that movie's coming out this Friday. So, it's nice to kind of shift over and spend some time with my other clients, but also, we've been having a lot of fun with my girlfriend. I just recently went golfing with my parents and my cats, who I'm kind of mad at because they woke me up this morning. (laughing)
That's good. Let's put that all into one again. That was good though.
I'm kind of looking at this right now, and my priorities don't... I should put my family on the top, anyways. So, the past two weeks, I've been spending a lot of time with my family, and close loved ones, especially my cats. And been ramping up with my other clients because of some licensing deals with Fantastic Beast and the wizarding world. I don't like that. Was that too much?
You can try it again.
The past two weeks, I've been focusing a lot with my clients, with their endeavors with Fantastic Beast. I've been spending a lot of time golfing with my family, and spending some time drinking wine with my girlfriend and playing with my cats. Maybe?
It's getting there. It works, it works. Spending mostly, for the lpst two weeks, mostly has been spending time, more time with clients, one of which is pretty interesting because he has a licensing deal with the movie, Fantastic Beasts. Otherwise, I've just been golfing a lot and playing with my cats a lot.
Yeah, maybe if I talk to you when I say it, instead of looking at the white board.
Maybe, it's maybe. Wanna try it one more time?
Yeah. So, this past two weeks, I've been focusing a lot on my other clients; they got a new publishing deal with Fantastic Beasts, Harry Potter movies, and also I've been spending a lot of time with my family, golfing, I don't really golf that much, but I'm trying, practicing. And spending a lot of time with my girlfriend and my two cats.
That's good. That's good man. (Applause)
I think it was easier, looking at you.
It's the bedroom eyes. (laughing) But see, so, we're emphasizing the point here in a few ways where it's... It sounds like an easy thing to do, A, B, C, D, right? But it's not so easy to do in practice, and you think about it. It's not so easy to see it in other people, and it's really not that easy to do it for ourselves, to give other people something to work with. So, that's really the point of this. The third part is what were you saying? When's the last time everyone used this phrase? Or something similar to it? Recently, I hope. It seems very insignificant, I realize that. That's probably also because I haven't explained it. But it shows a lot of self-awareness, it shows a sense of equity in your conversation, and in your conversation partners and that turns out to be very important, it shows a sense of validation. With the equity, one of the, I think we were talking earlier, one of the biggest tips people have is to get other people talking about themselves. That's true, but we don't want to be a part of that conversation all the time. We don't want to just be the one that's always being interested and always being curious. So that's what I mean by a sense of equity. If you find yourself talking too much, the other person is going to be very happy if you actually realize that and have that self awareness. Okay, so to bring this into context, when do you use this seemingly insignificant thing? When you interrupt someone, when you speak simultaneously to someone, for example, you speak simultaneously, they let you go first, you should probably bounce the ball back to them or otherwise, you know they had something to say, but they basically gave you the floor. You should give it back at some point. When you've hogged the spotlight, if you can have that level of self awareness. And that's what I'm talking about with this conversational equity. If you know that you've hogged the spotlight, people are going to be annoyed. To fill a silence or a lull, this is also great when you forget what to say, when you have nothing to say, when you forget what you're talking about, you say "Okay what were we talking about, what were you saying?" Just throw that in there, people will bounce the ball back. When you want their feedback, when you specifically and explicitly want their feedback, their opinion, their stance on something you've said or that you're thinking. Above all else, the reason to do this is so the other person feels engaged and validated, so they know that you care, they know that you know they're not just a wall, or they're not just an ear for you to talk to. It's to bring them into the conversation and to make them feel invested and involved. Of course there's a few variations of this, whichever works best for you is the one to use. Back to you, okay, I'll shut up now and let you answer. I'm really sorry I interrupted, were you saying something different? Were you saying something similar? Were you gonna say this, were you gonna say that? So these are all ways to basically say, "Okay, I'm stopping, now it's on you, "please tell me what you think, what were you saying?" And that's really one of the best ways to keep conversational flow because otherwise well, is a flow a flow if it's entirely on you? I don't think so.
About the conversation thread, so that's really a conversation tactic to kind of let the other person just kind of hook on something.
Yeah, the perfect word is hook. You just leave these things, these hooks, breadcrumbs, tangents, whatever, you're leaving them so that people will ask you about them. It's like an acceptable way to talk about, it's like a very acceptable way to talk about yourself. You're just mentioning it and passing, not in detail, you're not drawing attention to yourself, but you're answering the question that they asked, but in an interesting way. So yeah, it's just hooks for people to ask about.