You can tell whether two or more people are having good quality conversations based on their body language patterns and volume patterns. In a good quality conversation, the participants are more engaged, they lean in to take information, the volume goes up, and their gestures are notable. In addition, there are nods, smiles, laughs and confidence. In a bad quality conversation, there are awkward silences hence the volume goes down and participants don’t engage as much using gestures. Conversation starters have a huge role in the direction that a conversation takes.
Conversation starters that produce low quality conversations
1. What do you do?
2. How are you?
3. Where are you from?
These are some of the poorest conversation starters but they are also the most used according to research by social psychologists. They almost seem socially scripted in that we say them on autopilot when attempting to engage with others. These are the worst ranked conversation starters. They produce the lowest volume, have the most leans away, worst head nods and worst micro expressions. From a physiological perspective, these conversation starters have no effect, they stimulate no pleasure.
Conversation starters that produce high quality conversations
1. Working on anything exciting these days?
2. Have any vacations coming up?
3. Anything good happen today?
When spoken, these conversation starters trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain released when we experience pleasure or rewards. These create or spark excitement. When asked a question, our brains tend to look for hits and not misses. For example the question, “been busy lately?” triggers one to think of all the negative things, various stressors and the busyness in their lives, whereas the question, “working on anything exciting recently?” Triggers one to think of all the good, happy and exciting things going on in their lives. The second question brings pleasure as one borrows from the exciting things happening in their own lives, bringing those things to the present moment. This type of conversation starter makes you more memorable. This is a side effect of asking someone to think of exciting things going on in their own lives. When the brain is triggered to look for hits of excitement, the conversation is more pleasurable and you become more memorable.
According to Vanessa Van Edwards in her Ted Talk “You are Contagious” this is the greatest gift we can give our fellow human beings. Having people flip into optimism, triggering their dopamine release and getting them off autopilot is something worth getting into when having conversations.
Refer to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cef35Fk7YD8
By Wanjiru Muhoro | Writer