The Conversation Games: The World Will Be Listening

As I was watching the movie, The Hunger Games a few months ago, I recall thinking, this looks kind of fun, except for the death part, the having to survive in the wilderness part, the cutthroat (literally) competition and of course, competing with teenagers.  I guess I’d completely change the game to something kinder, gentler and ultimately more practical.  “Conversation games,” anyone?  Make conversation challenges and declare a conversation victor? No death, no wilderness, and no competing with teens (who might prefer a “texting contest”).  The competition might still be stiff, though.  Some people are quite adept at verbal sparring.  Others are masters at ferreting out information in conversation.

I’d probably put myself  in the second category–I enjoy digging deeper in conversation.

Years ago,  my husband and I would go to parties and play “The Conversation Challenge.”

My husband would pick out someone standing alone whom neither of us knew  and challenge me to find out some odd bit of information, without being obvious about getting it.

Then, I’d approach the “target” and strike up a conversation.  All that was necessary to do this was to observe something and comment on it.  Pretty much anything–the food, the weather, their clothing.  Then, the next steps involved guiding the conversation toward the challenge topic.  Here’s an example:

Diane’s husband: “See that big guy in the Hawaiian shirt?  Find out his maternal grandmother’s first and last name.”

I then would walk nonchalantly in the direction of the target, and wait for the right moment to “strike” (easy if the person is alone, a little trickier if the person got in a group).

Diane: “Fun Shirt.  It reminds me of when I visited Hawaii.  Have you ever been there?”

Target: “No, I just got  it at Walmart, but I’d like to visit Hawaii someday.”

Diane:  “It’s beautiful there–I’ve been there a couple of times, but not during the winter.  I’d love to go there in the middle of winter sometime.  Have you ever gone anywhere warm in the winter?”

Target: “Well, when I was a kid, my family went to Disneyworld over spring break.  Have you been there?”

Diane:  “Actually I have a few times.  The first time was with my family when I was 17.  My grandmother even came with us!  She didn’t go on any of the exciting rides, but she seemed to have just as much fun watching us have fun.  Grandma’s are like that!  Have you ever vacationed with  your grandma?”

Target:  “No. But, we visited my grandma every year, usually a couple of times.  She lived in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, so it wasn’t too far to go.”

Diane:  “Your mom’s mom?”

Target:  “Yep.  She was a happy, roly, poly woman.  If she had been an inch taller she would have been square!”

Diane:  (laughter). ” Sounds like she was pretty special.  Is she still living?”

Target: “No.  She died right after I graduated from college.  I wish my kids could have met her.”

Diane:  “I know what you mean.  My kids were little when my mom’s mom died, so they don’t really remember her.  All they have are pictures and my stories about her.  My big Italian Grandma, Dorothy DiSipio.  What was your grandma’s name?”

Target:  “Leila Miller, but we just called her Grammy.”

Diane:  “Leila, what a pretty name . . . “(repeating the challenge information helped me remember it). 

After I had the challenge information, I would  continue the conversation because it was enjoyable and then make an exit at the appropriate time (“It’s been great getting to know you . . . please excuse me . . . let me introduce you to . . .”)

Try The Conversation Challenge with a friend or another conversation game, you never know, the world might be listening!

Do you have fun conversations games to share?  Games that only require people–no game board or equipment?


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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