How Conversation Works: 6 Lessons for Better Communication

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Great Courses Instructors Make Learning Fun I have been purchasing many courses from TGC this year, and have learned much more than I hoped than hoped for, and it was fun. The Conversation Works was the latest purchase, but I have enjoyed the Nanotechnology course, Genetics course, Piano course, and plan to just keep on going. I will continue with the ancient history books, a special interest of mine.
Date published: 2020-12-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Friendly and Fun Watching this course held my attention and I found the advice engaging. This is a course worth watching.
Date published: 2020-09-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Analysis of Conversations Very interesting how she disaggregates and aggregates the underlying meanings in different types of conversational settings.
Date published: 2020-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting, useful, and well-presented Pithy, sophisticated, rational, and practical, this is a terrific overview of effective communication, presented by a dynamic, expert communicator who really knows her stuff. The 5th lecture, “How to negotiate professional relationships”, is especially good. With only 6 lectures it can’t get too deep into any of the subjects discussed, but everything presented is relevant and helpful. This would be a great refresher for any professional regardless of their experience or expertise. I gave it 4 stars because, like other Teaching Company 6-lecture courses I have done, it doesn’t come with a course summary or outline, which would have been most helpful.
Date published: 2020-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent course Professor Curzan is engaging and informative, clearly explaining abstract concepts with interesting concrete examples. Actors also demonstrate the concepts like back channeling and power differential in well scripted skits.. An organized, well taught course.
Date published: 2019-12-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great refresher - A bit dated I enjoyed the professor. I hadn’t taken a linguistics course since college. Full of useful tips.
Date published: 2019-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Subject explained very well! This is an excellent class on the basics of conversation and how it works. While some may wish it was more in depth, for me it was just right. I only wish there were more examples of how to deal with confrontational situations, the examples that were given were good. I'm very thankful I bought this course and I highly recommend it for anyone who needs to have a good foundation in understanding conversations and how they work. I was able to apply what I learned right away.
Date published: 2019-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Useful and Professor was great! The Professor was very engaging and presented useful techniques to understand conversational structure and improve one's ability to communicate in may different situations.
Date published: 2019-09-15
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How Conversation Works: 6 Lessons for Better Communication
Course Trailer
How to Become Conversationally Aware
1: How to Become Conversationally Aware

Discover why the simple act of talking is so important to your success professionally and personally as the professor introduces you to the idea of becoming conversationally aware. Learn and analyze techniques for doing your share of conversational work and consider how gender affects the way we converse.

32 min
How the Conversational Floor Works
2: How the Conversational Floor Works

Improve your ability to navigate the conversational floor by exploring turn-taking devices as well as techniques for opening conversations and monitoring or reducing your "talk time." Weigh the pros and cons of using discourse markers and fillers such as "well," "um," and "like," and understand why being an active listener and back-channeling are crucial to being a good conversationalist.

30 min
How and When to Be Direct and Indirect
3: How and When to Be Direct and Indirect

Interpreting the meaning behind the words that people say is key to making conversations work well. Consider the logic of conversation and understand more consciously the way we use explicit and implicit meanings-direct and indirect speech-to accomplish things through conversation. Also learn ways to redirect conversations that feel inappropriate or questions you find overly personal.

28 min
How to Navigate Face-Threatening Acts
4: How to Navigate Face-Threatening Acts

Situations that threaten another's "face" or dignity are particularly complicated. Explore methods for managing this difficult social territory, including guidance on enhancing positive face, respecting personal space, offering a successful apology, and navigating the politics of giving a compliment. Consider how cultural differences of politeness affect expectations in this area.

34 min
How to Negotiate Professional Relationships
5: How to Negotiate Professional Relationships

Turn to hierarchical relationships and self-promotion in the workplace with an investigation of the language of sophisticated ingratiation. Get strategies for making presentations feel more like conversations, ensuring listeners are engaged, and interviewing effectively-on both sides of the desk. Then, delve into the dynamics of doctor-patient communication, where effective conversation can lead t...

32 min
How to Maintain Relationships with Talk
6: How to Maintain Relationships with Talk

Compare "report talk" with "rapport talk" to understand how discourse can simply relay information or build intimacy with a friend or romantic partner. Look at the fascinating research on how cooperative and competitive speaking styles differ, how parents model conversation for children from infancy, how language alignment can predict relationship success, and how electronic communications follow ...

34 min
Anne Curzan

I love this chance to share my passion for exploring the history of language and the dynamics of everyday talk. It allows us to see and hear the language around us in entirely new ways.


University of Michigan


University of Michigan

About Anne Curzan

Dr. Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She earned a B.A. in Linguistics from Yale University and an M.A. and a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. Professor Curzan has won several awards for teaching, including the University of Michigan's Henry Russel Award, the Faculty Recognition Award, and the John Dewey Award. Her research interests include the history of English, language and gender, corpus linguistics, historical sociolinguistics, pedagogy, and lexicography. In addition to writing numerous articles, reviews, and edited volumes, Professor Curzan is the author of Gender Shifts in the History of English and the coauthor of How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction and First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student's Guide to Teaching. Beyond her teaching and research interests, she is a member of the American Dialect Society and sits on the usage panel for the American Heritage Dictionary. She can also be found talking about language in her column, Talking About Words, in Michigan Today and on the segment, That's What They Say, on Michigan Radio.

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