Science discovers we don’t know how to end conversations well

…When participants guessed at when their partner had wanted to stop talking, they were off by about 64 percent of the total conversation length.

That people fail so completely in judging when a conversation partner wishes to wrap things up “is an astounding and important finding,” says Thalia Wheatley, a social psychologist at Dartmouth College.

People Literally Don’t Know When to Shut Up—or Keep Talking, Science Confirms

I don’t mind saying that for FIML partners, this sort of thing is child’s play. Not only that, the self-reported accounts of when people wanted to end a conversation, are weak data points similar to self-reported food consumption.

In FIML, conversations rarely “end.” Like all topics, they remain open because conversations are themselves important topics of conversation. FIML partners are rarely stuck with wondering if they said too much or didn’t say enough or understood correctly or missed making a significant point because they can easily revisit any conversation and clear up any and all lingering thoughts about anything.

FIML proves to partners that the real meat of their interactions is the interactions themselves at whatever level is important to them; be that micro, meso, or macro levels.

Besides myself, few if any psychologists have studied live, dynamic interactive interpersonal material because like all people psychologists themselves have been trapped at an abstract level of understanding human psychology.

Most past research about conversations has been conducted by linguists or sociologists. Psychologists who have studied conversations, on the other hand, have mostly used the research as a means of addressing other things, such as how people use words to persuade. A few studies have explored what phrases individuals say at the ends of conversations, but the focus has not been on when people choose to say them. “Psychology is just now waking up to the fact that this is a really interesting and fundamental social behavior,” Mastroianni says.

Lemme tell you guys, there is way more material in this area than when or how to stop talking. In fact, there is so much material, in many ways doing studies on isolated aspects of how people talk actually obscures the subject. This can happen because studies are conducted at a level of abstraction that is different from and much more simplistic than the real-world, real-time reality of dynamic interactions themselves.

We see this kind of mistake again and again in psychology: grand theories of the mind, taxonomies of personality disorders, cognitive reframing, and so forth. Experts peering at human psychology from above or through the abstract lens of scientific studies; when actual human psychology itself can best—and really only—be accessed by individual persons themselves working with a willing and similarly self-aware partner during real-world situations.

I am very much in favor of studies like the one above because they do provide general markers that most people can learn from. That said, the people who really must own the subject of psychology are people themselves. You do not need to wait for more studies to do FIML. You can start today and be well on your way in a few weeks. Plus it’s free and you don’t need a therapist.

Here’s an idea for Mastroianni or any other academic in a position to conduct psychological studies. Study FIML. Contact me for help or figure out how to do FIML on your own. Then teach it to, say, 20 couples and assess their progress over a year or more. Use whatever you like as a control group.

Years ago, I remember getting into lucid dreaming and lucid sleep well before these practices were widely known. I thought it was marvelous to be able to become lucid during sleep. I still do think that and also I am delighted that at some point lucidity became so common teenagers were doing it. I hope something similar will happen with FIML.

The basic FIML technique will become much easier when more people do it and understand how fundamental it is to good speaking and actualizing human potential. Once you understand what FIML is, you will see that you can’t really have a really good relationship with your SO without it.

As for ending conversations: from a FIML point of view it’s a little messy and rarely clearly determinable because all real exchanges are happening live and we almost never know exactly where we are, where we are going, or when our talk is over. From a FIML point of view, this is subject matter for active speech. Easy to handle and fun to play with a few times. There are thousands of reason one may want to end a conversation or take it up again. Or start a new one. A large benefit of FIML is far fewer afterthoughts and almost no feeling of being “stuck in some endless conversation that [you do] not want with no way to politely extricate [yourself].”

Notice how being “polite” is used in that phrase. Consider how much profound psychology lies just beneath that word.

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