I’m glad this post exists. Back at university, I used to find conversations difficult, and regularly failed to make new friends and connections.
At the same time, I had a close friend who would walk up to senior professors or startup founders after they’d given talks, without knowing them from before, and after 15 min of conversation end up laughing together, and getting invited to various cool opportunities.
I was in awe. And I was confused. I asked him how he did it. His answer was very similar to some of the advice in this post.
This was different from what I had been doing, which was roughly “Say something that sounds very complicated and insightful, and you’ll impress them”. (Ah, my youthful folly!)
I now think one of the core things allowing a good conversation to happen is to actually connect with someone—coming to understand each other, and have the things you say follow either build on, or riff off of, each other in genuinely meaningful ways. There are different ways for those meaningful exchanges to happen. Metaphorically, they can be like ping-pong games, dances, musical jams, raising a barn or exploring a jungle. However, when conversations fail, they feel more like a blisterfeld, or two loudspeakers playing two different songs at the same time.
I think this is also what makes your techniques tick. They’re largely about building a particular kind of meaningful connection. (But I don’t think they capture all of the art of conversation. For example, they don’t cover “jamming” style conversations.)
Glad you enjoyed it!
That’s interesting—I’m mostly optimising for efficient and accurate learning, but it does also seem effective for signalling sincerity and building rapport. Turns out smart people seem to enjoy talking to someone who’s clearly putting effort into understanding what they have to say!
I’m curious what you mean by jamming style conversations?