The Science of Having a Great Conversation

If you’ve ever spoken to someone and later felt that you would have better spent your time talking to a brick wall, you’ll surely identify with the observations of Rebecca West. “There is no such thing as conversation,” the novelist and literary critic wrote in her collection of stories, The Harsh Voice. “It is an illusion. There are intersecting monologues, that is all.”

If someone feels that their conversations have left no impression on those around them, then that is the definition of existential isolation. You’ve probably experienced this on a bad date, at an awful dinner party, or during an interminable family gathering.

Psychological research has identified many habits and

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