462 Coordination in Conversation

Research by Mastroianni, Adam; Gilbert, Daniel; Cooney, Gus;& Wilson, Timothy (2021). Do conversations end when people want them to? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,118(10). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2011809118

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

Do you feel awkward when ending a conversation? Researchers studied how people decide when to close their conversations. In study one, 800 participants completed a survey explaining how a recent talk ended. To get the partners’ perspectives, the researchers recruited 250 strangers to engage in actual conversation in a lab, reporting when they and their partner wanted it to end.

Results? In study one, 66% of participants reported they ended the conversation because they did not enjoy it anymore. On average, they believed their partners wished it lasted 61% longer. In study two, participants wanted their conversations to last only 14% longer, yet 46% wished for different topics. In both studies, participants did not communicate with their partner what topics they liked or when they were ready to end the conversation.

The results show we likely overestimate other’s desire to continue a conversation. Talk about topics you think both would enjoy. Gracefully end when still having fun and compliment them like, “I enjoyed talking with you! I particularly like talking about this topic. What do you like to discuss?” This provides needed information for your next mutually successful conversation.

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