Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Art of Conversation

There are an infinite number of ways to start a conversation. Only I don't know any of them. As a certain someone says, there are 'different folks with different strokes'. And sometimes you are just stuck with another person alone. What must one do? How must one proceed?

The little kids are the easiest I guess. There are the standard set of questions that are guaranteed to give you returns whether you like it or not.

Which school do you study in? The answer to this one is, more often than not, UKG.
But that is your class. What school?
Oh forget who is your best friend? This seems to be every kid's favourite question. It's easy to answer, doesn't require much thought, because everyone has a best friend. Or think that they do. Maybe more than just one. And thus begins Priya, Divya, Karan, Rahul.. Note that as generations progress, there seem to be more names belonging to the opposite sex in this answer than earlier, and well, stranger sounding names.

Then we get to the in-their-teens-and-almost-resembling-adults category. I feel at my egotistic best with these ones. No one admires and respects a 22 year old more than these darlings. You can exhibit so much knowledge about so many things they don't yet know, and still come across as someone they can identify with. So we don't have to talk about them. Seems, however, that I already did.

Category 3: Peers. Same age group. Maybe older. Ah, all the same! There are people here that talk and talk and talk. And there are people who don't. At all. I'm put slightly at ease by the people who smile. It's easier to venture into communication with such people. But the other set that don't smile..and don't talk either. Why? One teeny smile is all I ask of you. Makes life easier for the two of us, seems to me. I think I must research the art of comfortable silences for them.

Again, when I say conversation, there are the normal must-fill-silence questions that I use on a regular basis (with different people!) : Where do you stay? How do you commute? Oh, the traffic.. this usually branches of into enough conversation about traffic, Bangalore, people, etc. to fill the next five-ten minutes. Unless the other person belongs to must-not-talk-or-smile category.

Again, note the difference between having a conversation and being an information market.
Conversation: exploring each other's thoughts, opinions, learning something interesting, getting to know something.
Information market: One party provides the other party with a lot of information. What kind of information? Well, depending on the listener, either interesting facts, uninteresting facts or irrelevant facts. Either way, it is one-sided, and some amount of discretion must be used when in this mode. :)

Well, there you have it, from kids to teens, information shops to he-who
-must-not-smile... a lot more categories waiting to be listed there, but for the fact that this post has gone on too long for me to go any further.


Suprita said...

I know this guy who every time he meets a new person asks for their name (which is, though not exactly necessary, the general norm) and then what their name means. Then, more often than not, they go off into a chat about the origin of the name and the likes. Nice tactic I must say.

You've missed out the older married guy you want to strike a conversation with. How do you carry that one off.. Say a colleague you meet at the parking lot getting onto his BMW bike. (Yea. I speak from a sad experience. I'd came off looking like an idiot :))

Piyush said...

the fact about in-their-teens-and-almost-resembling-adults is so so so true :) They really do adore us, dont they ;)

Anmol said...

Good read! I think i know some he-who-must-not-smile types common to us

Magizhan said...

Interesting topic. It is something everybody can definitely relate to. It is said that “Great minds talk about ideas, average minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people.”. All that is fine, how the hell do i start talking??

One of the main factor that determines how a conversation can happen or go between ppl is how well ppl know each other. What and how one talks to a close friend, a friend, ppl in their family, a person whom you just know because they are from your company, college.. a person just introduced by somebody else, a stranger etc., can be a different post as such. it is too long a comment. lemme stop :)