Practicing Dialogue/Phrases for managing conversations

It is often difficult to hold a meaningful conversation. We often drift off topic, waste time, dodge the issue, bloviate, insist on the last word, repeat the obvious, hold untenable positions, bluff, stall, monopolize the conversation, filibuster, and stonewall. Here are several phrases that can help manage conversations.

Converse in good faith

Most of these phrases were provide by the Artificial Intelligence chatbot chatGPT.

Phrases for managing a conversation edit

  1. Can you tell me more about that?
  2. I see, and how does that relate to the topic at hand?
  3. Could you give an example?
  4. I understand your point, but have you considered [counterpoint]?
  5. That's an interesting perspective, thank you for sharing.
  6. Can we come back to that later?
  7. Can you clarify what you mean by [specific word or phrase]?
  8. I think we're getting off topic, let's return to the main discussion.
  9. What are your thoughts on this?
  10. How does that fit into the bigger picture?
  11. Is this how you wanted to spend our time together?

Phrases for ending a long-winded question: edit

Have you ever had your patience tested while someone tells some rambling story before finally asking some vague question? Here are some phrases that can help move the conversation along.

  1. Can you please get to the point?
  2. Can you be more specific about what you're asking?
  3. Can you please simplify your question?
  4. Can you rephrase that in a more direct manner?
  5. I'm not sure I understand the relevance of that, can you please explain how it relates to the current discussion?
  6. Can you please state your question more clearly, I am having a hard time understanding it.
  7. Can you please summarize what you're trying to ask?
  8. Can you please make your question more concise?
  9. Can you please come to the main point of your question?
  10. I think we are getting too far away from the main question, what is it you are trying to ask?

Phrases for managing time during a conversation edit

  1. Let's stay on schedule, can we move on to the next topic?
  2. I think we're running out of time, can we come back to this later?
  3. Can we please keep the conversation on track and within the allotted time?
  4. I think we're getting off topic, let's return to the main discussion.
  5. In the interest of time, can we please stick to the agenda?
  6. I think we've spent enough time on this topic, can we move on to the next one?
  7. Can we please wrap up this discussion and move on to the next item on the agenda?
  8. We have a limited time for this discussion, can we please focus on the most important points?
  9. Can we please keep the conversation concise and to the point?
  10. I want to make sure we have time to cover everything on the agenda, can we please manage our time efficiently?
  11. In the few minutes we have left, can we please hear from [name reticent person]?

Phrases for declining a gift edit

  1. Thank you, but I can't accept that.
  2. I appreciate the gesture, but I can't take it.
  3. Thank you for thinking of me, but I can't accept this gift.
  4. I'm sorry, I can't accept something so valuable.
  5. I'm honored, but I can't accept this gift.
  6. I can't take that, thank you.
  7. Thank you, but it's not necessary.
  8. I appreciate the offer, but I can't accept it.
  9. I'm flattered, but I can't accept this gift.
  10. I'm sorry, I can't take something so generous, thank you though.

Phrases for breaking away from a boring conversation edit

  1. I'm sorry, but I must go now.
  2. I think I'm going to head out, it was nice talking to you.
  3. I'm afraid I have to excuse myself, it was nice talking to you.
  4. I'm sorry, I must cut this conversation short.
  5. I must go, but it was nice talking to you.
  6. I think I'm going to leave now, thank you for the conversation.
  7. I'm sorry, but I'm not really enjoying this conversation, I'll talk to you later.
  8. I must go, but I enjoyed our talk.
  9. I'm sorry, I must end this conversation, it was nice speaking with you.
  10. I think it's best if I end this conversation now, thanks for your time.

Confronting Insincerity edit

It is rarely useful to continue a conversation where people are being dishonest, insincere, evasive, or who are otherwise acting in bad faith. This list of phrases can help to confront the insincerity, identify the resistance, attain candor, and hold a genuine conversation. Use these phrases to insist on intellectual honesty.

Choosing a topic edit

This list of writing prompts may help you find an interesting topic.

Toward common ground edit

The Wikiversity courses on Practicing dialogue, Socratic methods, Finding common ground, and Street epistemology can help the participants discover common ground.