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Jake Maddox

Field Service Engineer,

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Do you find it difficult to engage in intellectual conversations with people in general?

It happens to me all the time. My wife encourages me to have dinner with her friend and her friend's husband. "It's the opportunity to socialize and meet new interesting people!", she proclaims. And yet the same boring conversations unfold. The guy rambles on about how many yards this guy ran, and how many interceptions this guy threw, and did you see how many spiders that guy ate on Fear Factor, etc, etc. I ask something like, "Hey, did you see that they possibly discovered the Higgs Boson at the LHC?" And the guy looks at me like I'm from Mars, "The LH what?". Then my wife makes a comment like I'm a nerd then everyone laughs. I'm far from a social misfit or hobbit, I just prefer to discuss things that stimulate me intellectually. I hope I don't offend anyone for saying so, but most of the time I feel like I'm surrounded by people that are intellectually challenged, to put it kindly. And maybe that's just it, if you consider that the average intellectual quotient is around 100. They're easily entertained and amuzed to watch television shows cataloging the "real world" of college kids living in a house together, arguing over who got the most trashed the night before at the club.

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    Sep 1 2012: I found most people like to talk about themselves. As you ask them questions, you become the Listener - you can slowly bring the conversation around to more interesting topics to discuss. This usually works 1/2 way through the meal, after the other miscellaneous chit chat dies down...
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      Sep 1 2012: We are our own biggest fan. Talking about the other is the first rule of seducing (in business and personal life). It takes a lot of exercise to know how direct a conversation from the person to more interesting topics. The trick is to know something about everything so you can easily link one thing to another and end up talking about a (more) interesting subject.

      I always congratulate myself when the other says "How did we ended up talking about this?".

      Or another "technique" I use is to skip the chit chat and immediately ask something like "When is the last time you wrote an actual letter by hand?".
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          Sep 2 2012: Hi Colleen. It's funny to see that within certain subject area's it's always the same people who contribute. Must be that we somehow care and think about the same matters :)

          Life stories can indeed be very interesting. It depends what you talk about and how you talk about it. I do not care about the discussion as such one has had with its friend. What I do care about are the arguments used. The discussion can still be subject of the conversation but depending on the way you communicate about it is of interest and one can gain something your experience.

          Also the other person must be open to having a conversation. If the other shares an experience I can relate to I'll share it. But if the other continues talking about his own experience after I shared mine you can deduce that he has no interest in you. On the other hand, if he takes the opportunity of you having shared your experience to take the conversation on a deeper level. By for example talking about how you experienced it and what you did with it. Then there's room for an "intellectual" conversation out of which you'll gain something.

          I hope you understand what the point I'm trying to make. I often feel like my contributions sound quite abstract.

          The last letter I wrote was last week (I still need to post it though). As summer began I asked my closest friends to send me a card or letter whenever they were on holiday. And not just a text message and a picture on Facebook but something personal. I miss reading actual handwriting where you can see the effort and love they've put in the words. I haven't been on holiday but I've sent some cards form my hometown to other friends with a basic text like "Hi, sun is shining here. How is your summer going?" And I'm also trying to get to know somebody better so I decided to write her letter just like they did back in the days (that's the letterI still need to post).
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        Sep 2 2012: Yes indeed Pascal-Xavier..."within certain subject area's it's always the same people who contribute. Must be that we somehow care and think about the same matters :)"
        I think you are right on my friend:>)

        You are also "right on" with the realization that "It depends what you talk about and how you talk about it". I think if one person is attached to a certain outcome, it is not as enjoyable, and the conversation does not flow as easily...do you think? For me, it is usually the process of the interaction that is most enjoyable, rather than the end result. Good communication is about the journey, as much as the destination...in my humble perception:>)

        I LOVE reading handwritten notes too, and I find that the more I stop sending them, the fewer I get! Maybe I have finally entered the electronic age??? LOL

        I also LOVE that you wrote the person you're trying to get to know better a letter.....that is very sweet my frined. DON'T FORGET TO POST IT!!!

        I think I absolutely and wholeheartedly understand, appreciate and agree with everything you've written above:>)
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        Sep 2 2012: Hi Pascal,
        This is a copy of my reply to your comment starting..."We are our own biggest fan,", which was removed my TED because I suggested who was actually being "smug"...it certainly is not you, as suggested by another commenter.

        You say..."It takes a lot of exercise to know how direct a conversation from the person to more interesting topics".

        I find that often the person and his/her life stories ARE the interesting topic. More often than not, when I listen to the person's story, it leads to the flow of more and more interesting conversations, and topic. As I learn more about that person, I share more about myself as well...it's a lovely flowing cycle, and when we allow it to flow, it very often becomes very interesting:>)

        I agree with you that knowing a little bit about a lot of things helps link one thing to another, and that contributes to the flow. I perceive everything to be interconnected, so to link and flow with the conversation has always been interesting to me. I also find humans, and human behavior (including my own) to be fascinating, so "listening", and participating on many different levels facilitates moving the conversation possibly in many different directions:>)

        I relate to your congratulatory feeling Pascal! At the end of hours of conversation, the other person and I often express....WOW....we just talked about politics, the economy, global issues, personal issues...etc. etc.....and we understand how they are all connected because we've just had a conversation that flows with the process of speaking, listening, sharing information.....I LOVE it!!!

        Interesting question Pascal....I cannot even remember when I last wrote a letter by hand, and I notice that my hand writing is deteriorating....probably from lack of use in that respect, and probably from a little arthritis. When is the last time YOU wrote a letter by hand?
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      Sep 1 2012: Whats wrong with people talking about themselves why you listen? This is the best way to learn about them - the listener is always gaining because you are the receiver . . .
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        Sep 1 2012: There are different ways to talk about yourself and different things you can talk about. I don't mind people sharing experiences they've had so others can learn from it. I do mind when people talk about themselves because they think they are interesting (and they might be to somebody else). If after 15 minutes of conversation (i.e. a monologue) I know the person's "whole life" but nothing of "intellectual value" I stop listening and leave. Not every word that comes out of somebody's mouth is actually worth sharing. I hope you understand what I mean.

        I don't mind monologues as long as I gain something from it. Be it a new point of view, an experience, something I didn't know or never think of...
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        Sep 2 2012: Hi again Ehis and Pascal-Xavier:>)
        I think/feel it is a good thing to share information about ourselves, and to do that we need to feel comfortable with the other person, so I believe that is where a good conversation may begin?....our comfort level?

        I also agree that there are many different ways to talk about ourselves. Are we genuinely trying to share information? Is our intent to genuinely connect with the other person? Is our intent to dominate and simply tell our own stories without consideration for the other person?

        I agree Pascal, that it is not interesting to have conversations with folks who think they are the most interesting thing since sliced bread! It is not interesting to listen to folks who are constantly trying to teach us something, or who believe s/he has all the answers to everything. I agree...I understand what you mean, and I also stop listening after repeated efforts to get a person involved in a more interesting, productive way.
    • Sep 1 2012: I like when other people talk about themself. That brings me the oportunity to know other point of views.

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