How to Have Interesting Conversations

December 14, 2020 by Ishaan Koratkar

Talking to people is important, it helps keep you sane. Though, there is one thing that takes the interestingness out of conversations. The subjects that require no credibility to speak on. Politics, celebrities, current events, and religion are the most suspect.

The antidote is talking to people about subjects that require some expertise or experience to speak on. They will lead to the transfer of knowledge, and to the birth of new curiosity. When you ask someone about their hobbies or genuine interests, you’ll be more willing to engage with them.

This isn’t to say either party needs to be an expert in the subject. You only need some experience. Take conversations about movies: they can still be interesting, and lead to a transfer of knowledge, without anyone needing to be a tenured director. Even better is video games. I have a friend who’s really into a select few video games and related hobbies. It’s quite interesting to learn about the most obscure glitches in a game, and the conversation engages both parties on a larger scale.

I love asking people about their work, however, it makes sense that people would not be willing to talk about the thing they do all the time. It seems better to stick to hobbies, plus its sort of fun to search people’s brains to find what they like to do. You wouldn’t ask a highschool or college student about what it’s like to be in academia these days and expect an excited response. Some people do work in jobs they find genuinely fascinating, but it’s hard to know if you are talking to Richard Feynman on physics or a retail manager on retail managing.

You can still talk to someone about politics or religion, and be engaged, though that’s less likely. I’ve had interesting conversations about those topics, but even then, one party always had, at the very least, done extensive thinking on the subject matter.

The next time you talk to someone, ask them about what fascinates them, what they think about, and what motivates them. The world will seem larger with the new curious characters you’ll find and you’ll get to take fascinating adventures into the brains of other people.

2020/12/14 by Ishaan Koratkar