What Not to Say If You Want People to Like You 102: Assuming Intentions, Talking Too Much, Referring to Inside Jokes, and Interrupting

Exploring more unspoken rules of conversation, since What Not to Say If You Want People to Like You 101.

In this second installment of revisiting what we already know about communicating in North American culture, I’m taking it to the next level, peeling back the first layer to discover even more hidden (and less obvious) elements of being a good conversationalist and being considered a friendly (and normal) person.  And alas, here are more unspoken rules.

Don’t assume a person’s intentions by saying “you probably…” Though I assign “cliché status” to the joke “you know what happens when you assume…”, there is so much validity in it.  People usually don’t want to feel like they are being “figured out”.  So to assume that someone is not trying hard enough at something, for example, may not fair well.  Some people are slower learners but solid performers, and even better teachers once they do learn.

Refrain from using the phrases “it’s complicated” or “to make a long story short” more than once a month. If you do, there’s a good chance you talk too much, or say use too many words to tell a story.  If so, the listeners are often not fully listening to what you say, as they are really just thinking “get to the point already”.  If you find yourself about to say one of those phrases, stop yourself for a moment, long enough to think, “Okay, tell them the ‘edited for time’ version of this story, using 1/3 of the details as you’re used to”.  Then act accordingly.

Shorter stories help the listeners to become involved in a conversation with you, instead of it becoming a one-way conversation.  Telling stories is a good thing, just remember that if you preface them with “it’s complicated” or “to make a long story short”, you’re taking too long to tell them.

Never start a conversation off with “Did You Know?” unless you have already verified the facts. (Click that title to read more.) People who make a habit of this phrase typically follow it with urban legends and unchecked myths.  Therefore, their listeners tend to take them less seriously, especially when the listener immediately looks up their story on Google or Wikipedia.  Surprisingly, even the story how “granddaddy long-legs spiders are one of the most poisonous spiders in the world, yet they can’t hurt you because their fangs are too small to puncture you” is not accurate.  They can bite you, their poison does get into your bloodstream, but the venom does not affect human the way it affects their prey, such as Black Widow spiders.  Humans have immunity against daddy long-legs’ venom.  Check it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pholcidae

No inside jokes. If you find yourself referencing an inside joke with one or more people (but not all) in a group, take the time to briefly explain it to the uninformed.  Otherwise, you’ll end up excluding people, which will cause them to think that you’re cliquey, that you already have enough friends in your circle.  Most importantly, make sure you never say “you wouldn’t understand”.  Instead, help them understand.

Interrupting a Person Then Never Returning Back to that Point in the Conversation. It’s amazingly how many grown adults never understood the importance of not interrupting a person when they’re talking to someone else.  However, there are times when you must interrupt a person real quick to tell them something crucial, but this is not offensive and is completely redeemable when you say “I’m sorry, you were saying that (insert where they left off) ”.

I “Get” Conan O’Brien: Why So Many Americans Support Team Coco Over Jay Leno

In the Year 2010…  In the Year 2010…


I am one of those people who function best on 5 ½ to 6 hours of sleep a night.  Any more than that and I’ll wake up with a headache and the rest of the day will just drag by.  This is something I learned in high school (1995-1999).  And the way I found this out was by staying up every night to watch the then unfamiliar Conan O’Brien.

He acknowledged his audience: High school students, college students, and senior citizens.  Demographics showed those were the people who for some reason kept tuning in each night.  Those were the groups of people who “got” his kind of humor.  Such as:

A giant bear wearing a diaper who was put in a chamber with cash flying around who instead of grabbing for as much cash as he could during the 30 second time limit, he chose to grab… himself.

Staring contests between Conan and his sidekick Andy Richter with distractions on stage to make it for challenging for them both.  My favorite was when a robot came out on stage and sat down on a toilet.  The sound of bolts clanking into the bowl were heard.  Then the robot raised his arms in victory.

Andy Richter’s little sister.  She was in love with Conan and would sit in the audience in her pajamas and pigtails and rush up on the stage whenever she got a chance.  I remember having a crush on the 25 year-old actress who played her; it was her first role on TV.  Years later she ended up on SNL and eventually got her own show, Parks and Rec.  Amy Poehler.

Not Cool Zeus.  Conan would flip through his “special NBC satellite” channels to see what else was on while his show was on.  He watched a show called Not Cool Zeus where Zeus broke obvious social boundaries.  One time he drank milk right out of the container from the fridge, looked around to see if anyone was looking, then snuck it back in the fridge.  Another time he did a huge cannonball into a swimming pool right next to a group of people who were just chilling out.  Each time a red logo would be stamped onto the screen that read “NOT COOL ZEUS”.

Raymond, who gives away Preparation H to audience members and sings, “Raymond’s here, Raymond’s here”.

Triumph the Insult Comic dog: “For me to poop on!”

Secrets with Mr. T.

http://hornymanatee.com/

Twitter Tracker.

When it really comes down to it, Conan O’Brien is my favorite comedian on TV.  And he has been as long as I’ve been watching him.

I don’t “get” David Letterman’s style of humor.  I’ve tried.  I failed.  The dry, aimless, ad-libbing Midwesterner and his Jewish bandleader Paul Shaffer were never a team that pulled off keeping my attention.  I’ve never made it through a full episode of his, not even the ones where he heavily addressed his scandal.

But Conan’s randomness reminds me of the way my guy friends and I joke around.  It’s not vulgar.  It’s just weird and off the wall.

Conan O’Brien is much more scripted.  Almost too scripted.  And somehow that becomes an advantage instead of a downfall.  It’s part of the fun.  In a way it’s like he’s making fun of how organized the show is.  He has always mocked NBC and his writers.

Like a grown-up version of Pee Wee’s Playhouse where he is the only legitimate entertainer amongst a crew and network consisting of imbeciles.  And a creepy Jewish bandleader named Max Weinberg who just happens to also be Bruce Springsteen’s drummer.  That is solid.

And the fact that Conan refuses to change his Spandau Ballet hairstyle. And that he speaks in a 1940’s radio broadcast dialect.  And that he constantly makes fun of his pasty white skin and lanky 6’ 4” body.

Yet he comes across as the classiest late night host.  Conan is somehow timeless.

I remember a few years ago I remember thinking how weird it would be if any of the late night hosts themselves ended up in the headlines.  Because so much of their job is sarcastically commentating on what’s going on in the news.  Ironic.  Now with David Letterman’s sex scandal, Jay Leno’s failed new show, and Conan’s leaving The Tonight Show, all the bases are covered.

I will always be a Conan guy.  Whether he’s on NBC or not.

Friends by Default: From Work, College, Church, Etc.

As kids, it was a common occurrence for my sister and me to be halfway eaves-dropping as our dad would tell our mom how his day went at work. We would hear him say strange names of people like Foot, Goose, Groucho, and Murdoch. Sometimes our curiosity would prompt us to ask the question, “Who’s that?”  He would always respond with “G.F.W. Guy From Work.”

It’s interesting to me when the word “friend” is followed with the word “from”. Friends From Work. Friends From College. Friends From My Dorm. Friends From Church. These are all Friends By Default.

In a sense, the friendship is forced because of the place these “friends from” met. But over time, as they spend more time outside of the common place, they may find themselves becoming friends without the “from”. And really, that’s how we obtain most of our friends anyway. By default. We just never gave thought to the fact there was a gradual conversion.

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