You get up to use the restroom. Your friend asks you, “Where are you going?”
What would you say? The literal response is always, “to the restroom.”
But the playful response could be said with a smile, “it’s a secret…” or a sarcastic “I’m leaving, I’m sick of your attitude” or “you’re so demanding” or “who wants to know?” or “I’m gonna go find someone more interesting to talk to.” You get the idea.
Exceptional conversationalists simply know how to PLAY. And a common theme with poor communicators? You guessed it – they stay in the serious LITERAL world where play doesn’t exist. Poor conversationalists view conversation as a means to communicate – but that’s it. The nuts and bolts of communication is about exchanging information– the “when will you get there?” or the “how much does this cost?” parts. But humor doesn’t live in those parts. Humor lives outside of the information-exchanging world.
In contrast, exceptional conversationalists look for opportunities to add additional playful commentary and interesting opinions.
Imagine we are co-workers. During one of our conversations, I ask, “Do you have any tattoos?”
What would you say?
If I was a betting man (which I actually am), I would reckon you would say one of two predictable statements:
1) “No, I don’t.”
2) “Yeah, I have a unicorn/star/cross/dragon/etc. right here.”
After all, it answers my question, right?
Being playful means having fun with unexpected responses. Be okay with not taking everything seriously or literally. Just because someone asks you a question, doesn’t bind you by law to a direct answer. Be okay with answering how you want to answer. Be okay with not answering the question at all – some people counter with question instead. Be okay with exaggeration, drama, and hyperbole. Realize that conversation can be fun and unpredictable if you want it to be. Try to have a playful mindset. If there is an open window for humor, jump through it and answer their inquiry later.
But if you’re not looking for any windows to jump through, there won’t be any.
Next time someone asks you if you have any tattoos, try some of the following exaggerations and witness instant smiles and laughter.
“Yes, actually my entire body is covered with tattoos. Hard to believe isn’t it?”
“Actually, I have a life size Bon Jovi portrait on my back. When I do this motion, he winks.”
“Yeah, a lot. I decided to cover my chest with all of my favorite 80s cartoon characters. I know, you think I’m crazy now huh?”
“Actually, I have a giant American flag wrapped around my back to my chest. Because I’m a true patriot.”