Category Archives: Conversation

Factors that Influence a Conversation


  • What your relationship is to each person in the conversation
  • What you know about each person in the conversation
  • What does each person know about you
  • What do you want them to know or not know, to think or not think, about you


  • What is the mood of each person in the conversation
  • What is the mood of the group
  • What mood are you in


  • What is the purpose of the conversation
  • What is the purpose of the gathering of people
  • What do you want out of the conversation
  • What do you know or think people involved want out of the conversation

Communication and Conversation Topics:

  • What is the background of each person, such as what language are they most familiar with, what slang, what references, what life experiences?
  • What is appropriate to mention, what is not

Full List of Conversation Resources

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Identity and Conversation Manipulation

I was recently asked about rivalry between Berkeley and Stanford.  The question was: are Berkeley students passionate about school pride.  Followed by, are you passionate about school pride.

Now there’s two answers to this question that jumped into my brain, and here’s how I worked through them:

Answer with the Truth: there are people who care about the rivalry, and there are people who don’t care.  I am someone who doesn’t care.  Conversation ends.

Answer with a Lie: Very passionate.  Of course I care, *Make conversation interesting by over-exaggerating school pride*

I answered with the truth, because the context of the question was “Stanford students are cool as a cucumber, whereas Berkeley students are dumb for spending frivolous energy on trivial pursuits,” and if I made the conversation interesting, I would attach to my identity the accusation that I am someone who frivolously pursue trivial things like over-exaggerating school pride.

I remain convinced that, for this particular instance, I made the right decision.  However, I cannot help but be bothered by the loss of potential for fun, because the rest of the conversation was not as engaging or fun as it could have been if we played around with school pride.


The hypocrisy within this whole situation is that everyone spends frivolous energy on trivial pursuits sometimes: that’s what having fun is.  All work and no play is not the way to go.  As such, why hide the “truth,” which is that I am someone who frivolously pursues trivial things, sometimes?  From what I know about human nature, and perception, and how people for identities of others, I know that the imprint of this interaction on overall identity will take more work to erode than if I wait for another opportunity to demonstrate fun.  At the same time, I suppose it is fair to look at it from the alternative point of view, which is that I am strongly signaling that I am no fun.  Seems like a lose lose situation.

Conversation Skill – Rich vs Poor

Conversation skill is like any other skill (What is Skill, Talent, Potential, Smart, Intelligence?), it improves with practice and good instruction.

Habit: When someone talks to you, do you always answer, or do you normally not answer.

Rich parents are more likely to have the time, energy, interest, and care to talk to their children, therefore developing the child’s conversation skills and training the child to talk back.  This is a mark of good manners that Rich parents teach: “speak when spoken to” because ignoring someone is rude.  Teaching a child to talk back in turn teaches both independent thinking and independent opinion making, as well as clear and open communication, which is the foundation for all good relationships.

Poor parents are more likely to work minimum wage jobs and never be home, or when they are home, to be too exhausted or uninterested in their children to have conversations with them.  Furthermore, the cultural expectation is different: children in poor families are more often expected to shut up and not talk back, because talking back is considered disrespectful.  This is because the parents probably don’t get enough respect in the real world for being poor or working low skilled jobs, so they demand it from their children: they demand silent obedience, exactly what the world demands of the poor parents.  As a result, the children learn not to talk back, not to have clear communication, not to have good manners, and not to develop independent thinking and opinions.

Check out more Conversation Resources or Rich vs Poor Series

Language Gap – NYTimes; Children from low income homes have a 30 million word gap by the time they enter kindergarden.

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