Getting better at conversation is not just for special conversations.
To improve, we have to decide first how we’d like our conversations to be different. Improving our (and those we converse with’s) sense of connection is a great place to start.
In an article titled Making Normal Conversations Better, Sasha Chapin had this to say:
[M]any conversations can be nudged in the direction of openness, spontaneous complexity, and shared emotionality. And a surprising number of conversations, thus encouraged, can become quite connective. These are the conversations where you’re likely to find yourself laughing, rambling excitedly, engaging in extended weird riffs, crystallizing old knowledge in new patterns, feeling comprehended, feeling loved, and, generally, having the sensation that you’ve temporarily stepped outside the walls around your being.
Every conversation cannot be the greatest, most amazing, conversation I have ever had. My goal is simply to make every conversation I have better than yesteryear-me would have done with it. Assessing whether someone felt any connection in a conversation is challenging because it involves interpreting their subjective experience. That’s the perfect opportunity for practice.
Study their body language, the timing of their responses, their apparent empathy for your experiences, and whether they appear increasingly curious. Notice your own reactions to them: Does time seem to be dragging slowly (a sign you’re feeling disconnected) or passing quickly? Do you feel that there’s something you want but can’t quite get at (a sign you’re feeling misunderstood) or that they’re almost reading your mind? Begin with exploration and discovery within the conversations you are already having and you’ll find a bounty of opportunities to tweak the very next thing you do or say.