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  1. The Guardian2/18/2412 min
    8 reads2 comments
    9.8
    The Guardian
    8 reads
    9.8
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    • KapteinB
      Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
      1 month ago

      I was never good at conversations growing up, and had to train myself to be better at them, which could be emotionally exhausting.

      Curiously, [supercommunicators] were not necessarily the obvious “leader” (in fact, groups with a more dominant individual tended to be less synchronised), but they were people who in their everyday lives tended to have bigger social networks, had people confide in them and were more likely to enjoy roles with greater responsibility. So what did they do? They spoke less, repeated other people’s ideas, admitted mistakes and were self-deprecating. They also asked questions – around 10-20 times as many as anyone else.

      This is what I learned to do, more or less; listen, learn, and ask follow-up questions. I fish around for common interests, but sometimes I just have to pretend to be interested in whatever they're talking about.

      I've also found that I have two abilities most people apparently don't possess: To pick up on when two people are talking about completely different things while thinking they are discussing the same thing (happens shockingly often!), and to pick up on when someone else was about to speak but got cut off. (During a recent-ish conversation with a friend about what would be our voice-lines if we were NPCs in a Bethesda video game, I was told one of mine would be "You were about to say something?".)

      (I've also found that 3 is the optimal number of people for a good conversation. 2 will result in awkward pauses, while 4 or more will result in the conversation splintering into several, or some participants never getting a word in.)

      Reading this made me wonder how many of these "supercommunicators" are actually naturals at it, and how many are really socially awkward dorks trying their best to be part of the conversation. Maybe there's a reason the socially awkward dork gene has survived for so many generations.

    • coriander1 month ago

      Excellent! A lot seems to come down to connecting genuinely, kindly with someone first so that defense mechanisms can be lowered and more honesty and clarity shared. The test scores example was really interesting. Relates to some of the ideas shared years ago in The Righteous Mind from Jonathan Haidt.