Juggling the many aspects of a reciprocal conversation can be hard for people with ADHD. Sometimes, we talk and talk without really engaging with the other person. We talk AT them rather than with them, and then we experience, shame, embarrassment and rumination—replaying the interaction for days.
What is a Reciprocal Conversation?
When two or more parties engage in back-and-forth communication that develops into increasingly extended conversations, it is called reciprocal conversation and it tends to benefit both parties. This give and take manner, back and forth engagement enables an exchange in order to gain a mutual benefit.
Parts of a Reciprocal Conversation:
[I go into much more detail in my post How To Make Small Talk]
1. Walk up to the person – face them and stand about an arm’s length away.
2. Look for the signs that tell you it’s OK to start a conversation – If they are talking to someone else, it’s good to wait until they’re finished. A sign that they are ready can include looking at you. You can also initiate by asking a question, such as, “How have you been?” Everyone loves to share their story.
3. Start the conversation – First say ‘Hello’ and say their first name, if you know it. For example, ‘Hi Mike’. Follow this with something general, such as “How are you?” or ‘It’s nice to see you’. If you are speaking to an adult or elder person, consider saying “Hello” instead.
4. Take Turns – Listen for their contribution, answer their questions and allow them to answer yours.
5. Check if they are interested – Ask questions to help engage the other person.
6. Talk about mutual interests – Try talking about things that you know the other person likes as well as things that you like. For example, video games, tv series, sports, etc are easy to talk about. Steer clear of saying things that can make the other person uncomfortable or hurt their feelings.
7. Tell a tight story so people can tell what you are trying to convey to them – See Below for phrases that can help you focus, get to the point and keep others’ interest.
8. End the conversation – To wind things down, you can say something like, ‘It has been nice talking to you, but I need to run. Saying this before walking away allows you to wrap up.
How to Manage the Elements of a Reciprocal Conversation
It can sometimes feel daunting to manage all the aspects of a reciprocal conversation.
My Big Tip: Work on one piece at a time. Don’t expect all pieces to be as you would like them, at least not initially. Evaluate where are you, what is in the middle and where do you want to go?
Tell a Tighter Story
A critical element to telling a tighter story is to avoid monologuing. As you are trying to make a story tighter, it’s important to focus on the key details people need to know. Ask yourself, “What does John need to know about this story?”
To help you focus and stay on track, I offer short phrases intended to sum up your message and speed things along.
You asked for a blog about these comments. So here you go!!
10 Phrases to Get to The Point Quickly
These comments help you skip unnecessary details and help you tell the person what you want them to know about your story. For example, if I am describing how I became a coach, or why our vacation was stressful, I adapt my message depending on the audience. Then I might use one (or more) of these phrases to sum up and keep the story on track.
- Taken all together (Huck Finn)
- Summing up
- To fast forward
- Long story short
- Skipping to the end
- In a nutshell
- To be brief
- When all is said and done
- At the end of the day
- Let me cut to the chase
Why Bother Having Conversations?
The ability to connect and inspire is an essential human need. In demonstrating respect for our audience, it is essential that we learn the critical life skill of being a good storyteller. Equally important is the ability to listen and empathize.
Good and open communication is the key behind all healthy relationships. You can also initiate by asking a question, such as, “How have you been?” Everyone loves to share their story.
Social Skills in Action:
Become your best self: socially engaged, confident, and open to the unlimited world of learning and connection.
More actionable advice, exercises and videos can be found in the Store
How to Coach Your Child – Kids need good role models. Skills like listening and communication are critical. This exclusive program for parents teaches how to coach your kids for life.
Rusty Social Skills Bundle – Everything you need to help students return to the classroom for the development of critical social skills.
Coaching Conversations Video Course – How to use the lessons in Why Will No One Play with Me? in everyday life using real people and real scenarios
From “Hi” to a Full Conversation – How to adapt conversation starters to initiate small talk.
Joining a group Infographic – Make joining a group less intimidating – and more fun!
Building a Conversation Infographic – Learn how to engage in reciprocal give-and-take
Steps for Joining a Group Video – Step by step details to comfortably and successfully join a group
How to Read the Room as an Adult – Managing perceptions and engaging successfully
How to SEL – HOW TO help children build social skills