My first class at The School Of Life in Bloomsbury, London, explored ‘The Art of Conversation’.

Presenter John Paul Flintoff, columnist for the Sunday Times, delved into the history of conversation and discovered Irish novelist Johnathan Swift was in fact shy as a mouse and hated conversation. However, he was determined to have a good one, so he persevered…
If a man of his verbosity was felt like he had nothing great worth saying to people, then surely there’s hope for us all.

It’s been proven that conversation is a currenecy as important as money; psychological studies have shown that those who have deeper conversations rate themselves as happier than those who regard their conversations as largely superficial.

So here are six ways to have better conversations, courtesy of Mr Flintoff and The School of Life.

Six ways to have better conversations:

1/ Have curiosity about strangers – everyone is different but similar to you. Find out how much so.

2/ Take off your mask – everyone has one. See what changes when you make space for others to do the same.

3/ Empathy + lack of assumptions – we all know how to be kind but we forget. We also tend to box each other before we know them from a bar of soap. Remember your kindness (and how much you dislike being labelled), and you’ll find you have more connections with people.

4/ Get behind the job title – we are all more than our current job title. NEVER ask what people do! The curiosity might kill you for the entire length of the conversation, but it’s much more fun.

5/ Adventurous openings – try to avoid the formulaic. Ultimately people will thank you for it. We had some interesting ideas come up which revolved around asking people ‘the craziest things they’d ever done’ and ‘what is your biggest secret’. But if you think that’s off your richter scale of comfort, just aim to ask something about people’s appearance eg ‘where did you get your shoes’. People love that shit.

6/ Courage – it’s scary striking up conversations with strangers. After all, we’ve all been told not to do that from a young age. But with a spirit of adventure, great conversation can pull you apart, refresh you and make way for a new you. Don’t be shy…
Thanks to The School of Life and John Paul Flintoff for a wonderful evening. Book in, if you can, for more classes at www.theschooloflife.com.

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