Ben Lansky: conversational rules of thumb
1. If you’ve been talking for more than a minute, you’ve been talking for too long. Stop talking and wait for cues that people want you to continue.
2. If people are interested and want you to keep talking, they will ask you questions. Answer their questions, but not for more than a minute at a time. It’s good to speak up when you have something interesting to contribute, but don’t keep talking without an invitation to do so.
3. Ask other people questions. Seriously. This is the most important part of conversations. Ask them questions about themselves and their jobs and their choices and their tastes. Imagine you’re hosting a radio show, and you’ve just gotten this very special guest, and you want to figure out what makes them tick, but you can’t pry them open all at once, so you have to come up with questions that will get them to reveal themselves without getting too personal.
4. Don’t just use their answer as an excuse to continue talking about yourself. Bad conversationalists will ask questions to hunt for new topics to blab about, or to be asked the same question in return. This is rude. Don’t do it.
Those are the rules.