In this beautiful technological age, we are blessed with a bounty of amazing things: cat memes, Netflix, GPS, online shopping and all the wonderful ways we have to communicate, such as text messages, direct messaging and Snapchat.
One thing we lack in this technological age is face-to-face communication. In turn, conversation is quickly becoming a lost art form.
As we’ve become more comfortable talking with our thumbs than our lips, speaking with another human has become increasingly difficult.
I’m here to share one simple tip that will help improve those rare acts of conversation for everyone. It is as easy as one phrase: “How about you?” I can make it even simpler; six letters is all that’s needed to open the door to better conversations: “And you?”
Those words, amounting to less than one second of effort, are the key to a good conversation.
Think back to the simple formula of a two-second conversation held while passing a friend on the sidewalk. It usually goes something like this: “Hey, how are you?” “Good. How about you?”
It’s almost automatic. Someone asks “How are you?” and the other person instantly asks the same in return. Yet, when immersed in a conversation longer than two seconds, people often forget this nice formality.
This is ludicrous when considering how applicable this phrase can be in almost any conversation, whether it be asking what people thought of a test, inquiring about someone’s weekend or discussing their thoughts on something.
Spoiler — this system works with anybody, whether that be a buddy, a crush, a classmate or an acquaintance.
Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines a conversation as an “oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions or ideas.” Exchange is the operative word here.
Without that exchange, a conversation quickly falls through the cracks, fading to nothingness and dying quicker than a person can say — you guessed it — “and you?”
Sometimes, people are trying to kill the conversation as quickly as possible, and that’s OK. Other times, people are simply oblivious to how they are debilitating this exchange. So if the goal is to potentially continue this conversation, please try this trick.
When a person asks, for instance, how you are doing, asking them the same in return is polite and shows you’re interested in their thoughts and life. It also leads to further conversation and just makes plain sense.
Let’s look at it in a way most tech-savvy young folk understand.
Being asked a question and not asking something in return creates a conversation that resembles that awkward, lopsided situation in texting where one person sends those one-line, five-word text messages, while on the other side of the screen, the person keeps sending monstrously long paragraph-length text messages in return.
Sometimes, understandably, people have to rant, have exciting things to share or just need to talk it out, but in most everyday situations, both parties should be putting in some effort and exchanging comments, thoughts, questions and/or ideas.
As the wise Amanda Bynes once said in “She’s the Man,” “Flow is flow.”
But if “flow” isn’t quite happening, throw in a couple uses of “How about you?”
My favorite is gouda too, thanks for asking.