Reader Email – A Question About Conversational Skills
Brief question: how do you salvage a beta-ized conversation? I’ll realize I’m getting stuck in one (talking too much, demonstrating too much eagerness, humor attempts misfiring, etc.), but when I try to steer it back on course I end up digging in deeper. Seems like the ideal thing would be to cut it off ASAP, but that leaves a pretty sour taste (even if I could cloak it in an aura of mystery). Any tips for making a clean recovery?
This is an excellent question and is near and dear to my formally (mostly) beta-chump heart. In the ebb and flow of a good conversation, it’s quite easy to fall into old habits. I feel Chris’s pain, I do.
A couple of points to be made here to help a man avoid this situation to begin with: First, if verbal Charisma doesn’t come naturally yet, then easy on the alcohol if it’s around. Booze can too easily lubricate a man’s verbal output to the point of stupidity. Don’t ask me how I know.
Second, curb your enthusiasm. Respond with fewer words, ask lots of questions. Women love love love talking about themselves and their feelings. It’s just what they do. Use that to make for a more mutually rewarding conversation ‘twixt you two. Also, a taciturn approach maintains mystery.
But Chris has a more challenging situation at hand. He’s lost control of the conversation and has prudently seen his own mistake. Kudos to Chris. The solution lies in the bounce. Just like bouncing venues, a conversation can be bounced.
“I don’t want to talk about that anymore. So what do you feel about [insert completely different and safe topic here]?”
This transfers the conversation away from the guy and onto the woman. Note the very important use of the verb “feel”. This puts the discussion into a safe realm for the woman and she will likely not notice the sudden shift because she’s now in her conversational comfort zone. She’ll wax forever about her feelings and while doing so, the man can re-frame and wait for an opener to deliver a playful tease.
For general conversational skills, practice is vital. Small talk and chit-chat don’t come naturally for a great many guys. Men are goal oriented, not social comfort oriented as are women. It is important to practice the conversation bounce. Small talk is the realm of the feminine and for men, it can be treacherous ground.