How to have a conversation about a topic you’re not interested in or don’t know anything about:
- Listen to what the other person has to say about the topic.
- Ask a question about what they said. Asking them to clarify or explain something you don’t understand is great, but any question will do. All else fails, ask them to explain what they like about some part of the topic.
- Listen to their responses and go back to step 2.
- Do this until 5-15 minutes has passed, then change the subject to a topic of your interest, unless you are actually interested in learning more on this subject, in which case, go on for as long as you like.
- Sometimes, they will say something like “I’m sorry to blather on about [topic].” This is an attempt at a conversational dismount. You can either say “no, it was fascinating, thanks” and then bring up your own topic, or you can say “no, it’s fascinating, please keep going” if you want to keep hearing about their topic. Note the tense difference (past -> moving on, present -> keep going).
I just thought I’d write a script for this, because someone who can’t / won’t do this came up in a Captain Awkward column, and listening about topics you have no interest in is a really useful skill to have and not often explicitly taught, particularly to boys and men.