The Art and Science of Great Conversations

By Psychology Today Contributors published May 2, 2023 - last reviewed on May 19, 2023


This is the 4th week of a 4-week series on conversation

Conversation is a lot like art. It’s one of those uniquely human experiences that distills much complexity and infinite variety, verging on the indefinable. Unlike art, however, conversation is not a virtuoso endeavor. It is not only inherently an ensemble enterprise, it’s also how we share what we know, date and mate, and find security. Conversation has extraordinary powers to excite, our neurons being so sensitive to face-to-face engagement that they rapidly activate reward systems in our brains. Yet surveys show that it’s losing ground to texting and other forms of communication that, at best, provide some pale illusion of satisfaction.

Six Conversation Habits to Break

By Dave Smallen, Ph.D.




This can make it seem as if you don’t care what the other person has to say.



This can shift the conversation from connection to competition.



Always encouraging others to be positive can feel invalidating.


Being Right

The conversation becomes about winning an argument.


Being All-Knowing

Explaining information without being asked for your expertise.



Sometimes people just want empathy.