Nonversation Starting 101

Now, I’m sure many of you have heard of this phenomenon before; the nonversation, wherein two parties engage in, what we would typically deem, a waste of fucking time. As with any dialogue, there are two crucial elements here. For the sake of today’s lesson, we will concern ourselves with the offensive approach.

Have you ever found yourself the victim of unwanted conversation? I know I have. Call me crazy, call me misanthropic, but people these days just don’t understand the value of not talking. It’s a lost art form in this 21st century age. for God’s sake, you don’t even hafta be in the same room as someone to have a nonversation these days, what with facebook, texting, and the other various forms of communication.

Now, there are plenty of ways to avoid conversation, but what do you do when somebody has already begun?

The answer is simple.

No, seriously. That’s the answer. “Keep your answers simple.”

Allow me to demonstrate. I have a good friend of mine who, unless the conversation is directly about him, never really brings much to the table. I don’t say this to spite him. I say this as a fact. Take a look at some of his attempts to start conversation…

    Example 1

“Man, I just ate four eggs.”

Naturally, this was met with silence on my end.
I’m not kidding you. That’s the type of shit he starts off with. Would you like some context? Cuz so would I.
This isn’t even a strategy of mine to avoid conversation. I legitimately have no idea how to follow up on that one.

    Example 2

“Ugh, I’m so sore from my workout…”

This is the classic overreach. I know what I’m supposed to say to this comment.
“Oh yeah, what all did you do?” or “Way to go, bro!”
The fact of the matter is, either of those responses would be met with more mindnumbingly details about his workout. This is perhaps the worst offense of the nonversation starter, because it has absolutely no substance to it. It serves as an ego boost to the person volunteering the information, but what does it do for anybody else involved in the discussion? Nothing.
If you wanna have that kind of conversation, just talk to yourself in the mirror.

    Example 3

“So, I was wondering if you could sit down with me and give me some notes on my script?”

This particular example might be limited to film students, but the phenomenon can be found in just about any career field or any request for help. Let me tell you how this plays out.
I read the script, taking detailed notes along the way, correcting spelling errors, and thinking about ways the project can be improved. After all, that’s what I was asked to do.
What does the nonversation starter take away from it?
A brief lesson in grammar.
Any concerns about content or character development receive a vague sense of hostility and a tremendous amount of rationalizing.
In short, again, he hears only what he wants to hear, accepts the undeniable (such as the obvious difference between “hear” and “here”), and decides to dump the rest.
Next time you are approached by a nonversation starter to help with a project, spare yourself the time and annoyance.

These are just a few examples of nonversation scenarios. They come in all different shapes and sizes, but to the trained eye, they are obvious from the outset. Heed these aforementioned warnings and you’ll find yourself pleasantly disengaged with those around you.

Next up? How to stop a conversation dead in its tracks… the nonversation way.


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