When it comes to good conversation, less may be more. A recent Harvard University study paired participants and gave them a simple job: talk to each other for any amount of time, up to 45 minutes. They could decide for themselves when to stop, and when the conversations were over, the researchers asked them a few questions.

The results showed that just 15 percent of people in the study left the conversation when they wanted to. About half of the participants wanted the conversation to end sooner, and about half wanted it to keep going longer. On average, the desired length of the conversation differed from what happened by 46 percent. When participants had to guess whether their partner wanted to leave, they were right only 63 percent of the time. They thought it was only six minutes from when they wanted to leave to when their partner wanted to call it quits, when it was really 13 minutes.

The conclusion from the study was that, even while we might have a grasp of how much conversation we want, we're not very good at judging how much others want. We also tend not to know when we're off the mark. So, when you feel like it's time to wrap up a conversation, it's probably well past time to do so.

Published on: Jan 17, 2019