The 8 Words ™ That Can Keep Any Conversation Going

Have you ever experimented on the people around you? I did an experiment on my children this year. No, I did not explain the risk and benefits to them and I also did not gain consent from my spouse. I just did it for the thrill. This is life on the edge.

“In parenting, like in gambling, seconds count.”

I think this is what parenting is, the opportunity to experiment without having to worry about clinical trials, gaining consent or media scrutiny. There is something therapeutic about randomly experimenting on other people.

My experiment was that I wanted to discover the fewest words I could use and yet maintain a conversation with my children. I had two rules:

  1. I can’t just say “Hmm, Hmm…” or “Uhhh.” I don’t know about you, but I moan when I sleep, so people think that I am sleeping if I use “Hmm, Hmm” too often. These words are good as a backup, but people catch on way too fast.
  2. The words can be used in sequence or they can be used randomly. Variety helps to decrease the likelihood that the Subject is aware they are in an Experiment. Full disclosure time, the last 14 years have been an experiment, so this really is an ongoing saga. My goal is to vary my routines so that no one catches on.

The 8 Words (tm) You Can Use to Keep Any Conversation Going

I selected the words through extensive research, using an advanced cognitive model. In other words, I randomly picked the words after thinking about it for only a few seconds. In parenting, like in gambling, seconds count.

The 8 words (tm):


I understand

I see

I like that

I will illustrate the 8 words (tm) using an actual conversation with my son. His words are in italic, my words are in bold.

“Hi dad, how was your day?”

“Good.” I chose to start with an intelligent word that will get the conversation going. Now the experiment begins.

“Can I have some milk?”

“Yes.” (Word #1).

“I had a long day, I hate math.”

I understand.” (Words 2 & 3).

“Can you help me with my homework?”

I see.” (Words 4 & 5).

“Dad, I love talking with you, you listen so well.”

I like that.” (Words 6, 7 & 8).

This is a beautiful technique that can make it appear like you are in an actual conversation with someone, but you are actually somewhere else!

Other interesting experiments you can try is to randomly insert words into a conversation with someone just to see if they are listening. Try this and time yourself to see how long until they pick up on it. The experiment is guaranteed to make you happier by 27% according to reputable researchers who are my cousins.

One tip I will leave with you: if you are going to insert random words in conversation, it works better if the random word is in the middle rather than at the end of a sentence. People learn in school that the first and last words of a sentence are the important ones. The middle words are where the action happens!

For example: If you are talking about each other’s day, you can say that you “Had an excellent day where your meeting discussed Elephants and cost savings.” If you are discussing your weekend plans, talk about how you are “going to clean up the garage and mow the lawn with the Snow Blower.” If you are discussing your children’s homework or their piano, remind them that they “need to do their homework right away and they cannot miss any of the Chinese Food because their marks depend on it.” This is guaranteed for hours of fun at home!

This Christmas, give a gift that keeps on giving: experiment on the people around you. You will be happier, you will keep your friends and your family wondering what is coming next and you will burn more calories because you are thinking harder.

Keep it real

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