Talking to people in public does not come naturally to me, yet I crave human interaction. Having a history of being in new situations regularly, I figured that I needed to learn the skill of social interaction. It took many awkward conversations before I was comfortable with small talk.
There was a type of person who always fascinated me: charming, full of stories, warm. Often I’d get along with them, but sometimes the conversation was flat.
Around the same time as I was reflecting on these encounters, a friend informed me of his newest hobby: cycling. He explained how cyclists need to find a good cadence – that is, a baseline pedaling rhythm – to set a foundation for their subsequent approach and training for races.
That idea helped me to string along this expression: conversation cadence. Everyone has a rhythm not only in their speech pattern, but also in their thoughts and content.
So now I know that I tend to assess conversation cadence when I meet people. If we both have a rhythm that seems compatible, then it’s likely we’ll have a good time in each other’s company. If we don’t, then it’s okay to politely thank them for the brief chat and walk away. It’s nothing personal, and I’m happy to buzz around a room to find a fruitful conversation.