Liz Stokoe podcast

012: Liz Stokoe on science and art of conversation

In this episode I interview Professor Liz Stokoe, while we were both speaking at Cheltenham Science Festival. Liz is a Professor of Social Interaction at Loughborough University, specialising in conversational analysis. Liz shares her insights into the dynamics of conversation, some of the aggressive moves people make and how to manage these situations and what we can learn from delicate exchanges such as marriage guidance mediators and suicide negotiators. I really enjoyed this interview and found it utterly fascinating to hear Liz’s insights and advice.

Episode 012: Liz Stokoe on the Science and Art of Conversation

In this episode, I talk to with Professor Liz Stokoe, an exper

In this episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Liz Stokoe, an expert in conversational analysis from Loughborough University. We delved deep into the nuances and intricacies of how humans communicate.

Our conversation began with Liz sharing her views on the future of human communication. She then delved into the detailed aspects of conversational encounters. We discussed interesting concepts like ‘Mis-greeters’ and the fascinating idea of ‘recalibrating’ our greetings.

Liz recounted her academic journey, touching on her PhD research where she analyzed university tutorials. It was intriguing to discover that many students portrayed a facade of not preparing much, even when they had invested significant effort.

One myth we tackled was about gender differences in conversation. Liz clarified that there isn’t a systematic difference in how men and women converse. She also emphasized how identity categories, whether it’s gender, ethnicity or others, can stereotype and limit the scope of our conversations.

Further into our discussion, Liz introduced the concept of ‘Recipient design’, a technique where speakers assess how their words are being received through subtle cues, like slight delays in responses. She also highlighted the idea of ‘First movers’ in conversations and provided insights on navigating these moments.

A segment I found particularly enlightening was when Liz spoke about the immense pressure suicide negotiators face and how they manage their responses. She introduced me to the Conversational Analytic Roleplay Method (CARM), a method that uses real-life conversations to train individuals to communicate more effectively.

Towards the end of our chat, Liz shared her vision for the future of conversational analysis. She also gave me an insight into her work examining the interactions between tennis parents and their kids.

Overall, this episode was an eye-opener, shedding light on the science and art of conversation and offering invaluable insights into the subtle skills that drive effective communication.

t in conversational analysis from Loughborough University. They dive into the intricacies of how humans communicate and the dynamics of conversation.

The conversation begins with Liz sharing her views on the future of human communication. She then moves on to discuss the nitty-gritty details of conversational encounters. Listeners are introduced to concepts like ‘Mis-greeters’ and the idea of ‘recalibrating’ our greetings.

Liz recalls her academic journey, touching on her PhD research where she looked at university tutorials. She found a surprising pattern where students acted like they didn’t prepare much, when in reality, they worked quite hard.

She busts a few myths about gender and conversation, making a point that there isn’t really a systematic difference in how men and women talk. Liz also discusses how identity categories, from gender to ethnicity, can stereotype and narrow our conversations.

Moving on, Liz talks about ‘Recipient design’, a technique where people gauge how their words are being received through subtle cues, such as slight delays in response. She also mentions the concept of ‘First movers’ in conversations and offers tips on handling these situations.

One of the most compelling parts of the discussion is when Liz touches on how suicide negotiators manage to respond under immense pressure. She introduces the audience to the Conversational Analytic Roleplay Method (CARM), which leans on real-life conversations to help people learn how to communicate better.

As the episode wraps up, Liz shares her thoughts on where conversational analysis might go in the future. She also gives a glimpse into her work with tennis parents and their interactions with their children.

All in all, this episode provides a closer look at the science and art of conversation, offering listeners insights into the subtle skills needed for effective communication.

Episode #12
1:30 The future of human communication
2:17 The forensic examination of conversational encounters
4:30 ‘Mis-greeters’ and ‘recalibrating’ initial greetings
6:15 Liz’s route to conversational analysis
7:05 Liz’s PhD – an analysis of university tutorials. Students reluctant to show they worked hard, cool to not prepare but actually working very hard
8:10 Myth busting – Gender and interaction. Zero evidence that women and men talk differently in systematic ways
11:00 Identity categories such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, age etc stereotype and narrow conversational focus, anything can be turned into an aspect of your identity which limits and reinforces stereotypes
12:30 The concept of coaching differently because of gender
14:00 ‘Recipient design’ – the monitoring of a conversation recipient to see if ideas are landing via body language, fractional delays in responses etc
16:07 ‘First movers’ – challenging greetings. For example, “Where’ve you been?” as a mis-greeting
19:07 Dealing with a first mover! Recalibrating the conversation and socializing
21:00 Conflict is good, it is important to be able to challenge
21:34 Responding under pressure – suicide negotiators. Live conversation analysis in a real-life, lifesaving setting
25:40 Conversational Analytic Roleplay Method (CARM) – real conversation from real encounters paused…what would you do next? Learning through the expertise of others
26:00 What actually works in a real-life, live encounter, rather than roleplaying guidelines
27:30 The problems with traditional roleplay
29:57 Mediators for relationship management. Explaining a process rather than philosophy. Are you willing…? Willing works! Single words can change the outcome of a conversation either positively or negatively
34:45 Subtle changes in language create different outcomes ‘Let’s get things sorted out’ rather than ‘I can help’
36:31 The field of conversational analysis in the future
37:40 Sports coaching – tennis parents and kids. The conversations between parent and child at the beginning, middle and end of a competition

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