I’ve never been good at social chit chat and yet I am sure that many see me as one of the world’s big talkers! I nearly always have something in my head that I believe is interesting to pass on; it’s just waiting for a suitable recipient. On the other hand some people can talk for hours on topics that I am simply unable to engage with for more than even a few minutes. I don’t know what it is precisely but I am coming to the conclusion that there are three main kinds of people when it comes to conversations.

Firstly there is the social driven kind. This is what many might describe as the ‘chit chatters’. The primary function here is to be social. This kind of communication is about togetherness and the joy of being in the presence of others. These conversations, like all others, have content but it is of secondary importance. The conversation generally focuses around the latest information from family or friends, often with a life style comparison exercise going on at a subliminal level.

The second kind of conversationalist is knowledge driven. For them content is of the utmost importance. The desire to receive and to share knowledge on serious topics like science, art, sport, or business and then to go on to formulate theories is more important than the immediate social context in which it is shared. And when these people are not involved in a knowledge sharing conversation, they are most likely to be found spending their time absorbing more content, ready for the next one, that usually begins with ‘I have just finished a fascinating book…’ or something very similar.

The third kind of conversationalist is the opinion driven communicator. For these people, there is nothing they like more than expressing their opinion and then engaging in debates or even full blown arguments to defend it. And defend it they do at all costs. Their range of topics can be extremely varied and their like or dislike of the other party is almost irrelevant, in fact a dislike can even lead to a more stimulating debate. Their conversations nearly always end with someone reluctantly saying “yes you’re right”!

Over the years I have tried to get better at social conversation and I have learned to take a bigger interest in others, adapting my opening lines to fit the situation ‘Tell me, how is your father?’ or ‘I suppose your oldest must starting school soon’? But I still find it extremely difficult to keep it up over an extended period.

What kind of conversationalist are you?

Have a good week