|Scott Adams mentioned a few simple rules for conversing with people in his recent book:
He was talking about starting conversations with people you don't know at public functions and parties and whatnot, but I think the idea applies to really any conversation. I was involved (unwillingly) in a conversation yesterday where a person broke more than half of those rules in the course of a few minutes. I wanted to stab my eyes out with a fork just to change the topic.
- Ask questions.
- Don't complain (much).
- Don't talk about boring experiences (TV show, meal, dream, etc.).
- Don't dominate the conversation. Let others talk.
- Don't get stuck on a topic. Keep moving.
- Planning is useful but it isn't conversation.
- Keep the sad stories short, especially medical stories.