As an introvert, I haven’t been very good at conversations. My usual mode of operation is to ask for the facts or to give the facts. When you approach conversations that way they end up being pretty short and to the point which is not a good experience for the person with whom you’re conversing.
I’ve tried many approaches to getting better at conversations but nothing clicked until I heard someone say:
“A conversation is like a tennis match. To keep it going you have to hit the ball back over the net.”
That made total sense to me! My job in a conversation is to not hold on to the ball when it is hit to me. I have to return it back over the net.
Let’s Break Down the Tennis Match Analogy
In a tennis match, the players hit a ball back and forth over the net. In a conversation, what is the ball?
You hit the ball back over the net by asking a question. If you are asked a question and you respond with an answer and don’t follow up with a question, you’re holding onto the ball. The game is over.
Make Conversations Fun by Gamifying Them
Now here’s where the fun comes in. You can totally gamify a conversation and the other person doesn’t even have to know you’re doing it.
Here are some examples:
When you’re in a conversation, the person who ends the conversation by holding the ball loses. Don’t be that person.
Count how many times the ball is hit back over the net. See if you can top your last high score.
Score extra points if you ask a question that makes the other person answer with a question.
Gamify your conversations without letting others know. If they find out, you lose the game.
Now I Look For Conversations
Since my goal is to become a better conversationalist, and I have a fun way to have them, I look for opportunities to have a conversation.
There are many other nuances to conversations but if you’re having trouble with conversations, this should get you going.