Conversational affordances


Listening to JSParty introduced me to an excellent article Good conversations have lots of doorknobs.

The most exciting bits was the concept of conversational affordances and how they they're the key to conversations that click. This comes on the tails of recently reading How to Win Friends and Influence People and The Fine Art of Small Talk. I find the concept of conversational affordances a more refined and realistic take on the general takeaway of those two books: Listening is an essential part of conversations; Pummel your ego out of the way as much as you can.

Three bits that really stuck with me were

Conversational affordances are things like digressions and confessions and bold claims that beg for a rejoinder.

What matters most, then, is not how much we give or take, but whether we offer and accept affordances

Conversational affordances often require saying something at least a little bit intimate about yourself, so even the faintest fear of rejection on either side can prevent conversations from taking off

This was one of those articles that felt like I came across it at exactly the right moment, primed by doing Improve, interest in improving my conversational skills, and having spoken 2 hours earlier with friends about it.