So the other day I was hanging out with this new set of friends I had met previously. I had run into them a few nights ago in a local bar, and we started talking about various things that you usually talk about in bars with strangers. The conversation steered it’s way around to baseball, and I turned out the had an extra ticket to a game last weekend. They offered, and I accepted. So there we were hanging out in the parking lot, having a few and cooking some bbq like most people do before a baseball game.
It’s interesting when you pay attention to the way a conversation flows. It’s a highly dynamic and interesting phenomenon. It’s like it has a mind of its own. One interesting thing you can do next time you find yourself in a conversation that is kind of wandering around aimlessly without any intended direction is to do some experimentation. I wouldn’t recommend doing this when the conversation is somewhat important, like if you happen to be testifying before congress or anything. In that case you might want have your game face on.
But if you think of the topic of conversation as a separate, living, breathing organism, it can be fun to experiment with it and see how many different ways you can stretch it. Sometimes it’s like when you chase a chicken. You can delude yourself into thinking that you are controlling it, but in reality, a chicken has very limited intelligence, and is operating on pure panic and fleeing in any direction possible, sometimes completely irrelevant of the noises you are making to communicate to the poor chicken that you really aren’t going to chop off its head and eat it.
Try this experiment: Next time you find yourself in the middle of a conversation of little global economic importance, choose a topic, completely at random, and as completely far removed from the current topic as possible. Then try and slowly steer the conversation towards your selected topic, but try and do it in such a way that the other people bring up the new items of the conversation. To do this you’ll have to introduce little intermediate transitional breadcrumbs and hopefully covertly help people to think of the connection on their own. The more you practice this, the sooner you’ll realize you can steer a conversation any way you want, including towards things to your immediate benefit. Which will pretty much make you a Jedi master.