5 Movie Scenes That Offer a Master Class in Conversation
Level up your daily interactions with strategies from ‘My Dinner With Andre” to ‘Adaptation’
Considering how inherent it is to everyday life, conversation is an under discussed art. But being more thoughtful about how we talk to each other can yield powerful connections.
I thought a lot about conversation when writing my memoir, No One You Know, which revolves around my organic interactions with strangers. Sometimes, those interactions were stimulating, sometimes a drag, and occasionally, they were revelatory. When I think about what makes a fruitful conversation, besides drawing on experience, it’s been useful to consult a resource hiding in plain sight: movies. I’ve plumbed some of my favorites for enlightening clips and lessons and that are worth adding to the conversational tool belt. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Offer perspective without shutting the other person down
“My Dinner With Andre” (1981)
This film centers entirely on a single conversation over dinner between two friends. Its naturalistic approach mimics the feel of everyday dialogue. Like a conversation you or I might have, there’s the occasional lull and once in a while, it slows down, but patience is rewarded with powerful jolts of insight and recognition.
Where the lesson comes in: At one point, Wally mentions that he’s become enamored with an electric blanket he’s received as a gift. Andre is wary of the way technology distorts human experience and perception, but he doesn’t put down Wally for using it, even as he compares an electric blanket to a lobotomy! Instead, he gently offers an alternative viewpoint. Disagreement is okay, even productive when handled with care. Good conversation thrives on divergent perspectives, so long as you offer up your idea in a manner that adds to the dialogue rather than focusing on shutting the other person down.