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My Phone Teaches Me To Be A Better Conversationalist

A lesson in communication learned via text message history.

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One of the interesting things smartphones can do is show you when you're dominating a conversation.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

This has actually helped visualize balance in casual conversations. Such as when a colleague asks, "Hey, how was your weekend?"

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

Now that example may seem obvious. But I think examining text patterns is even more useful for those I talk to most - where the balance is complex.

For instance, when I scrolled through days of texts with my girlfriend, I saw great fluctuation. Some days we alternated. Some days she had more to say, some days I did. And sometimes neither of us had much to say.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

The point is, in our face-to-face conversations with those we hold closest, we experience this same ebb and flow, and I need to be as aware of it in real life as I am on my phone.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

In those moments when we're reciprocating well, I should be careful not to go on too long about any one thing.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

In those moments when she has quite a bit to say, I should be careful to give her room to talk but also signal to her that I'm listening and want her to continue.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

In those moments when I have quite a bit to say, I should take small bites so I don't overwhelm her. (Knowing that if she wants me to keep talking, she'll let me know!)

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

And in moments when neither of us have much to say or are both too tired, that is alright. We can read books or take a walk or watch Netflix - rather than force a conversation.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

I've found that visualizing our conversations this way helps me to identify what mode we're in at any given moment, and what role I could play to best serve our communication needs - listener, talker, one-who-leaves-her-alone.

Nathan W. Pyle / Via buzzfeed.com

In time, I hope to see all of these glowing clues in real life as well as I do on my phone.

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