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Be Flexible and Creative When Conversing

Refreshing Conversation


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		  Refreshing Conversation   

What does it take to create a refreshing conversation? 
It requires expression that is not routine, predictable, or stale. 

(Which, unfortunately, describes many everyday conversations.)   

Elements of Refreshing Conversation   

Refreshing conversation is upbeat, with some new ingredients and  perhaps some surprises, these expressed with positive energy, colorful  words, and vitality. Such a conversation might also include the spices  of wit and humor, a helping of good will. Certainly it has full attention  among the conversers even though all parties to the conversation may  not share equally in the talk. It's lively, attentive, and stimulating with  fresh ideas expressed in a vibrant way.   

Most conversations I observe tend to be routine, and those include  conversations among good friends and relatives. It's pretty predictable stuff.   

Then I think of the small child, rushing home from school to announce  “Guess what we did in class today!” She goes on with a lively report about  how Angie brought her pet snake to school for all to see, and the brave  students were allowed to touch it. If the parent is eager and attentive and  says “Wow! Tell me about it,” now that's a refreshing conversation!   

Routine Talk is Dull   

I contrast the above interchange with the predictable available talk  with a grocery clerk (even when there is no line behind), who flatly  mentions that “You saved $3.40 today” and “Have a good one” as we  depart.   

Break the Pattern   

To refresh these conversations, I often make it my goal to “break  the set” (the routine) by noticing something different, such as an award  button on the clerk's uniform that says “15 years of service” or  “Employee of the Month”. I comment on such items, usually asking a  few questions, then give genuine congratulations to the clerk. In a few  moments, our brief conversation is transformed.   

Sometimes little bits of wit accomplish the refreshment, as in these  examples, mostly done tongue-in-cheek:   

 I know the guy who invented imitation spaghetti. He's gonna call it  “impasta.”   

Or, borrowing from another wit, say something like   

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." 
--- Film director Billy Wilder 

We become what we think about, and what we think about is  usually what we listen to and read. Want more verbal spice and  flavor? Read some contemporary poetry. Want challenging ideas?  Listen to provocative, in-depth interviewers like Charlie Rose on PBS,  or talks given at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco (often  re-broadcast on public radio.) Also, spend time with colorful, vivacious  people who have lots of interesting points of view. Their energy will  rub off on you.   

Above all, break out of predictable conversational routines.  Then, when talking with others, take some detours, venture  beyond the usual, be a bit contrarian.   

That'll be refreshing!  


Loren Ekroth ©2012, All rights reserved.

Loren Ekroth, Ph.D. is a specialist in human communication and a national expert on conversation for business and social life.

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