I’d like to think I’m decent at conversation now, but I wasn’t always.
One weird mental analogy that’s helped me is that I've come to think of conversations as ball-tossing.🤾♀️
Basically, if you and I are casually tossing a ball back and forth, there’s a bunch of unspoken rules.
If you throw me the ball and I slap it away, that’s kind of a bummer. It’s why we’re told to respond to a compliment with “thank you” rather than “nah, you don’t know what you’re talking about”.
If you throw me the ball and I start tossing it from hand to hand and never throw it back, I’m kind of a jerk. That’s monologuing. Unless I’m being especially entertaining, you’ve no desire to stick around.
If we’re strangers and start off with gentle throws to get to know each other, but never pick up the pace or get into a more interesting game… Well, small talk definitely has its place, but many people get bored if it goes on for too long.
There’s no perfect game, and everyone’s got a different preferred style.
Maybe this is common sense to people who didn't grow up with their nose in a book, but I like my analogy and I’m sticking to it.