5 Ways To Balance A Three Person Conversation

How to keep the tricycle of conversation rolling.

1. Have you ever found yourself in a three person conversation?

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

2. It can be difficult to keep everyone engaged. In fact, sociologists have written volumes about the unique challenges the triad presents.

3. Here are 5 simple ways to maintain a well balanced conversation.

4. 1. “The Lasso”

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Goal:
Introduce person 3 to a conversation you and person 2 had recently.

Examples:
“Sarah and I were wondering - who is actually buying black licorice?”
“Sarah and I were just discussing the history of the Slanket and the Snuggie.”

“Sarah and I were just debating whether or not one should speak on an elevator.”

6. 2. The “Venn Shot”

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Goal:
Introduce any topic on which person 2 and person 3 are both well-versed. Sometimes it helps to start by thinking of an unpopular opinion you have.

Examples:
“You both love cats. What is it about cats that is so special?”
“So guys I don’t like chocolate. Is something wrong with me?”
“You’re both wearing these Fitbits. Do they live up to the hype?”

8. 3. The “Softball”

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Goal:
Softly pitch a general topic that person 3 could tell everyone about. An accomplishment/change usually works well because person 2 will feel obligated to listen!

Examples:
“Hey, so congrats on your promotion! Cheers to that.”
“So you just moved to the city. How has it compared to your expectations?”

“So you have your NCLEX soon - how are you feeling about it?”
“Amazing! How did you go from a degree in _______ to a job in ________?”

NOTE: This is not where you force people to retell stories, like “TELL THAT ONE STORY ABOUT THE TIME.” No. Don’t do that. Ask questions, don’t boss.

10. 4. The “Open Enclosing Folder”

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Goal:
Take the current topic and demonstrate how it is one among many examples of a given principle/set. This opens up the conversation for all.

Examples:
“Oh yes, well I think we all have guilty pleasure TV shows. ”
“There’s always that one menial task that you oddly enjoy.”

“This sounds like the Peter Principle - where people are always promoted to the level of their incompetence.”
“I love it when any animal is wearing human clothes.”

12. 5. The “Table-it-for-later”

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Goal:
When you find yourself in a one-on-one conversation, table that conversation for a time when it’s just you two. This may be necessary at several points in the conversation.

Examples:
“Haha you and I need to have this conversation later.”
Haha okay there are no other examples for this one.

14. Tell me any triad conversation tricks you have in the comments below!

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

15. And for more in my series on conversations, click here.

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