Conversation is an art. It is more than just the verbal back and forth between two or more participants. It is a sport. No, not like horseshoes, more like tennis or field hockey. It requires skill and practice and uniforms. Ok, maybe not uniforms, but a good hat never hurt.

Unfortunately, many men approach conversation more like a kidney transplant than a sport. We just sit back and wait for it to be over. That is unfortunate. You don’t get to drink Gatorade with a kidney transplant. It’s for sports! Get in the game! (I apologize for that tirade. ESPN was playing in the background.)

There are hundreds of books that will coach you on how to be better at conversations. They offer great advice such as asking open-ended questions or practicing active listening. But let’s be honest. When you have a spare hour to do some reading, which are you going to choose- Be a Better Conversationalist or Sports Illustrated? We all know the nod goes to whichever has the most pictures and/or whichever is sitting on the back of the toilet at the time.

So today’s post aims to provide the most important points for talking with our wives. To begin we have to understand a fundamental difference between the way we tell stories. Men tell stories to get to a point, a finale if you will. We don’t interrupt each other unless it is to interject snarky commentary or jokes. Women tell stories for art and community. Their stories are designed to be interactive with questions and verbal affirmations. Interrupting a story with a seemingly arbitrary question is encouraged and expected.

So in the next few points, I will share questions that you can interject that will allow you to participate as your wife tells you about her day or her trip to the mall or her pedicure or…

Conversation Questions:

What was he/she wearing? – Apparently, it is important to know what various characters in the story are wearing. The fact that the cashier was wearing a pink shirt with a gaudy red hat may seem off the point, but don’t let that distract you. This is art!

Who are they friends with? – The story is not truly meaningful unless you know how the characters in the story are connected both to you and to others you may or may not know. “…so Jane’s friend Lucy – she is the one who dated Fred for a while – you know, Fred that works with Sherry – she was going to come to the lunch but…” For many men, this can be distracting and hard to follow. It helps if you treat it like the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

Who do they remind you of? – In addition to knowing what people are wearing and who they are connected to, it is also important to highlight any glaring lookalikes. It is not a problem if you have never even seen the person they look like it still must be called out. So if your wife is talking about her lunch date with her friends be prepared to find out that their waiter looked just like that guy from Days of Our Lives. And if she doesn’t tell you, ask.

But seriously: The real question is this: do you really listen when your spouse is talking? This is critical for both men and women. Truly listening to someone shows respect for that person. Are you listening?

What do you think? Add your comments below. (But please refrain from singing “R E S P E C T, find out what it means to me…”