Dex Delivers – How to Hold a Conversation

posted by on 14th September 2008, at 10:18pm

Yet again you have called upon my infinite wisdom and creative thoughts as to how the world works and how to take full advantage of it. Before I comply to your wishes (and who wouldn’t?), let me tell you how much of a pleasure it is to manipulate the human race into thinking that one is right simply by expressing something as complicated as possible using ten-and-above letter words at least seven times per sentence in order to say something that would originally take half as many.

For instance; “Tell me how to speak better”, compared to: “Would you respectfully contribute your infinite confabulation and expressive innovations towards effectively consulting other individuals”. There’s a real difference behind the two. However, instead of right or wrong, they are merely two different methods.

The first one is straight to the point, quick and simple, where you can invite audiences of any age and stupidity to participate in a conversation you plan to hold for such an audience. You don’t wish to hold them for too long, and yet, leave them with the option of actually listening to what you say. I call it the Simple Method.

The second method is the Intelligent method; more for great importance, where you appeal to the brainiacs of the modern day and sound insanely intelligent to every day normal people. The time they spend deciphering what you said makes them skip a few sentences, leaving that method to only explain its primary goals in the first and every third sentence while adding a bunch of mumbo-jumbo reasoning in between, hoping to clarify things for the intellects and sound smart to those of the opposite nature. I recommend avoiding this sort of conversation altogether, not because I’m not one of those brainiacs, but because the majority of who you talk to aren’t.

In a normal situation, teachers would use the Simple method because they want their students to listen to and understand every word of what they say, as it’s their job and goal. Politicians, however, would use the Intelligent method a lot mainly for status and … well, because it’s their job too. Thanks to me, I might add …

Just kidding. It’s an ancient practice.

Aside from these two methods, there are 3 more I would like to talk about before going into the more informative section. First is the Mumbling Method, in which illegibility is the primary focal point. It’s where people intentionally make themselves illegible for a moment in order to not only stir up their audience’s attention, but to also allow one to repeat oneself in a better fashion then what they originally would’ve said had they have been heard the first time. Think of it as a trial and error for when you can’t get the words out just right. The con of this method is that you can only do it once every 15 sentences or so, otherwise you’d just sound stupid and your method would backfire.

Another one, this one being perhaps one of my rated-worst-annoying ones, is Lost-In-Thought. It’s where a person talks almost non-stop and momentarily forgets he even has an audience. Think of it as a sudden rush of inspiration and all the worlds problems converse into one whole dramatized solution that you try to get the most out of as soon as possible in order to avoid forgetting it. To some, it’s very informative and potentially even life-changing. When it isn’t, though, it’s annoying, disrespectful, and a good way to lose an audience be that the intention. If you have this sudden wave, write it down instead and make a novel out of it. That way, the audience will want to read long and boring Lost-In-Thought, and you could even make a little bit of money.

Lastly, it’s the great amazing Egotastic method (The word ‘egotastic’ being copyright by Alex 43, but don’t tell him I use it. It means “topic that’s all about me”). Everything you say or do either “sounds” or “is” better then the person you’re talking to. You let them talk first, and every few sentences, you relate what they’re saying to an experience of your own. Jealousy is either key or potential, and this method usually applies for both speakers instead of just one, where an ego-sharing war breaks out between the both of you that, in the end, you either both win or you both lose. It can be fun, but only do it to some of your closer friends. A stranger out in the street would just consider you an annoyance and try to ignore you.

There you are. 5 methods of conversation. If you have trouble remembering them, just think of SLIME: Simple, Lost-In-Thought, Intelligent, Mumbling, and Egotastic. Take your choice, I won’t judge. Unless you actually want to talk to me …


Speaking to other people and sharing ideas is a natural practice, so I don’t have very much to say on what to do and what to not do.

First off, you DO want to keep and maintain eye contact with whoever you’re speaking to for the most effective broadcasting of ideas. First off, by keeping eye contact, you know they’re still awake / alive / part of reality, and that’s a start. If you’re actually facing the person, your voice will actually be received by the listener at a higher volume and greater clarity because the sound waves you are projecting will be directly towards their face and, thereby, their ears. It’s a good practice to maintain eye contact while sitting on a bench, standing, or even walking. If you can’t do that, however, without involving your face making undesirable contact with a comparatively hard surface, either practice in your own time (preferably on a mat) or actually stop walking for a moment.

Of course, this is not something I’d advise doing while you’re driving, but quick glances to ensure your victi- listener is still awake can help.

Another thing that’s strongly advised that I can not stress enough is that you DO take note of the actual condition of the audience. Watch their faces; particularly their eyes to find clues as to how you’re actually doing. You want that gleam of interest to shine through them, even if they’re wearing sunglasses. If they can hardly keep the eyelids off them, then either you’re talking about something they already know or they’ve gotten bored of your existence and it’s time for a break.

Now, there are a number of people who disagree with me on this, but I will still advice you DON’T rehearse “exactly” what you want to say 2 minutes before you actually say it. Not only do you half-forget your entire speech, but every goof-up means a much longer awkward pause then if you started from scratch because the mind would naturally try to relate to what you had rehearsed. Instead, momentarily think about what the subject you want to talk about is and actually start off with a few ad-libbed sentences before trying to connect everything together. I can guarantee that 70% of the time you’ll just keep carrying on by yourself, compared to the 40% that it’ll work should you think about what exactly you are going to say.

DON’T talk endlessly.That’s a key thing to good conversation. 10 sentences max, and then it’s their turn to talk. Nobody will looking you in the face, interrupt you mid-sentence, and say that you talk too much, so the task is upon you to allow them their criticizing rights.

To do this, DO always take a 5 to 10-second pause every 4-5 sentences. Trust me, it’s much easier for your listener to say “And then what?” then “Shut up, dangit, and let me speak!”. Plus, the pause will allow them to enter the conversation and relate to their own experiences and ideas as well as allow you to gather your thoughts and organize your story to make it more convincing. However, don’t pause too often, or it will just seem to the listener that you want him away from you.

Lastly, DON’T talk directly about the person you’re talking to. Just … DON’T.


Naturally, I named my article here “How to hold a conversation”, and yet, I’ve only told you about the basis and what you should or shouldn’t do. I haven’t actually told you how to directly hold a conversation.

This is something that people have to learn for themselves. I could write entire novels of advice, but the only way that anybody will become a good conversationalist is with practice. Practice, and lots of other people. In fact, you don’t even need people. Hold a conversation with an imaginary friend, or if you’re not schizophrenic, a plant or an animal. You can make as many mistakes as you’d like and learn from them – think about what sounds and feels right, and how they would react, and how you would react to their reaction, and how their reaction to your reaction of their reaction reacts according to the reaction of their own. … you get the general idea.

That’s all I’m going to say. … yeah. That’s it. Go read something else.

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