Three More Terrible Mistakes in Conversation

Firinn Taisdeal
3 min readSep 2, 2022


Most people think they are good at conversation. Most people are not good at conversation. Nearly everyone could be better at conversation.

This article is an extension of the previous article Three Terrible Mistakes in Conversation.

Several years ago, I began writing a book about conversation: patterns in conversation, habits in conversation, motivations in conversation, the entire psychology of conversation. Having gotten halfway through writing the book, I began to notice a distinct pattern; whenever I mentioned that I was writing a book about conversation, the other people in the conversation suddenly became much better at conversation.

Most people are as bad as they are in conversation mainly because of a lack of awareness, and a lack of effort. We don’t have to be such slobs with each other. There is a better way.

In the spirit of promoting greater awareness and greater grace in our relations with each other, I present the following three terrible mistakes in conversation, all of which are common. You probably commit at least two of them frequently. Very few people commit none of them.

#1: Using your conversation partner as a launchpad

Many people, as a matter of course in conversation, use what their conversation partner says merely as a launchpad for indulging their preoccupations. Sure, these people are listening, but they aren’t listening because they want to know or understand what you are saying. They are only listening for anything that provides an excuse, however flimsy, for indulging their preoccupations.

Did you mention that you had a salad? Be prepared to hear how much your conversation partner hates vegans. Did you just say you once went to Italy? Here comes a harsh critique of Cambodian food. Did you just mention that you’re not feeling well? Get ready for a rant about the American medical system, without the slightest concern for whether you’re not feeling well.

You don’t matter. You are just being used as a reminder system for your conversation partner’s preoccupations.

#2: Talking at length about people your conversation partner doesn’t know

A guest in our house recently talked on many occasions, and at great length on each occasion, about her many relatives. This went on for four entire days, hour after hour, about so very many relatives, none of whom I have ever met.

At a certain point I gently let her know that it was difficult for me to relate to all these people I had never met. This comment of mine only served to remind her of a story–about one of her relatives.

#3: Assuming you understand, when actually you don’t

We’ve all had the experience of saying something, and then hearing our conversation partner respond in a way that means clearly they didn’t understand at all. Sometimes the response will be lengthy, all based on a complete lack of understanding.

How do you know you’ve actually understood someone? You might have completely misinterpreted what they said. You might be entirely mistaken about what they meant. You could be absolutely and utterly wrong.

Why not find out, by asking? You might get lucky, and actually be right.



Firinn Taisdeal

I am an author and inventor. My first book was about people’s relationship with their possessions and how possessions change us, for better and for worse.