August 02, 2013

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Discussing politics is a game better played online. You can provide links to back up your point and your opponent has time to research a comeback before his attacks get all ad hominem. When you”€™re out in a bar, keep it light. Talk about women’s asses or trivial things such as what constitutes “€œreally good vodka.”€

This is especially true at funerals and golf outings. At a funeral, we”€™ve already done our crying. The family doesn”€™t need more blubbering around the coffin. Keep the conversation about some funny thing the guy did when he was alive, or better yet some ridiculous news story about a horse that was trapped in someone’s pool. I”€™ve noticed young men at funerals get really pissed when they hear us old-timers doing this, but that’s because they don”€™t get it. We”€™re not trivializing death. We”€™re trying to lift ourselves out of the darkness.

The same goes for golfing with a client. Young Turks are always interrupting the flow of banter to ask if we”€™re going to be working together, and they”€™re constantly pitching ideas on how that can happen. Nothing’s going to happen if we don”€™t get along. Working together is 74% hanging out together and if that’s difficult, why bother doing business? When golfing with a client, keep the conversation centered on the game and your best off-color jokes. You can email him your business ideas when you get back to the office.

The worst thing you can do when sitting around with a group of people is pull up some funny YouTube video they absolutely must see. It always takes way too long to load and the whole time everyone’s watching it, they”€™re wishing we could hurry up and be done so they can show you their favorite. Like pretty much everything requiring undivided attention, this kind of correspondence is better left to email.

Cell phones and computers should be banned from conversations entirely. Showing a YouTube video in a bar is ten times worse than doing it at someone’s house. The reception is always worse and that means stopping a conversation to sit around a blue light and watch a loading wheel spin. This also goes for looking up a website that backs up your point. You need the conviction everyone had twenty years ago to get your point across. Yes there really is a culture where people nod their heads to mean no and shake them back and forth to mean yes.

Now, if you have a string of texts from a crazy woman who you haven”€™t responded to in three years, MAYBE that’s worth showing, but only for a moment and only if you”€™re with one person. A cell phone isn”€™t a conversation piece. It’s a distraction.

Don”€™t invite someone out for drinks if you have work to finish. Having your phone on the table is like bringing homework with you on a date. If it’s impossible to go to dinner without checking on something back at the office, don”€™t go to dinner.

If you just survived being being swallowed by a hippo, the floor is yours. Otherwise, stop blathering on with superfluous details about a story that isn”€™t even that good in the first place. I don”€™t care if you built a bookcase this weekend and I”€™m sorry to get all Obama on you, but “€œyou didn”€™t build that.”€ You assembled it. The people at Ikea built that.

If you have trouble suffering fools gladly, I recommend some casual jibes in his direction. People with no social skills tend to be very sensitive, so all you need is a “Do you own the book rights to that story?”€ and he’s going to think twice before he bores us all again.

For every two minutes you talk about yourself, everyone else gets the same amount of time to talk about themselves. Did you tell everyone about the fight you had with your sibling? Good, now ask them how they get along with their siblings. A good conversation is about sharing information and learning something.

When we talk about say, house fires, the assignment is not, “€œTell us a story about house fires in your life and how they affected you,”€ it’s more, “€œHow about those fires in San Diego back in 2007, huh? Should people even be living there?”€

It’s important to remember that this is not a session you”€™re paying for and we”€™re not your therapists. If you just got dumped and want to overanalyze a dead relationship for hours, do that one-on-one with a close friend. It’s a pointless but understandable conversation to have, so understand that you are going deep into conversation debt and you now owe this person a couple hours of your time when his “€œdisgusting sow of an ex-wife and her cocksucker lawyer”€ win the custody battle.

The best kinds of conversations start with a ridiculous question such as, “€œWhy are women such horrible drunks?”€ and everyone chips in until you eventually piece together a reasonable theory. It turns out that it’s probably because after centuries of breeding, their biology is predisposed to remaining relatively pure. Therefore, poisoning themselves tends to have more adverse effects.

Even if you”€™re telling personal stories like your worst sexual experiences, you should be able to pull together some common truth. Maybe you”€™ll realize everyone’s bad time was linked to booze or that you weren”€™t really into that person or the insecurity of youth. Now you”€™re smarter than when you went into the conversation and that’s what separates humans from animals. We use memes to warn our fellow man and provide him with life lessons. Conversations are not something to be endured. They”€™re something to enrich our lives. Let’s go back to that please. Also, stop saying “like.”€



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