Playful banter is about having fun with conversation. We've all had those long boring talks
that make you wish your talking partner had some "personality" so what is it that makes these
interactions so different from those exciting conversations that leave you feeling playful and free?
Well most conversation tends to be centered around the
trading of facts back and forth without any thought to fun and play. And quickly does the boring
interaction develop. And who wants boring when fun is just a few short steps away?
"What's your name?", "It sure is loud in here", "I like sports" are all well and good
for getting to know one another's demographics and basic interests, but is this an enjoyable conversation
that creates fun? I think not. Now realize playful banter is not about deep, meaningful conversations,
quite the opposite, the meat of the convesation is actually quite trivial, and that is one of the best
quality of banter - you can banter about anything. You need to know about baseball to talk about the Yankees
and their inflated budget, you need to have watched that last episode of Lost to talk about what Jack said to Kate,
but with banter you don't need to have any specialized knowledge to have a fun conversation. What creates a
fun conversation is what we call
verbal irony - non-literal language where you don't actual say what you mean nor mean what you say. Exageration
is a great tool to built some fun into your conversations.
Banter is also used in a form of fun teasing (not the abusive kind) that creates attraction in women
and respect from your male peers. It's all based on the idea of exageration - where you are not actually
communicating negative judgements of them even though the words that you say are in fact somewhat negative.
The two things you need to do to make sure you don't actually insult someone (not the goal) is to have the
content of your message contain enough exagerated concepts or obviously out of place word choice to clue them
in that you aren't being serious. The second item is the most important which is body language and voice tone.
Say things with a smile and upbeat tone or else use exagerated displays of mock emotion. Mock emotion is one
great way to add some flavor to your communications. Whatever emotion is appropriate in a regular conversation
add a splash of flavor with something out of place and exagerated. No one is going to think you are serious if
you give enough clues that you aren't being serious. This is key. Doing banter deadpan may be great if you
have a very informed audience that knows you like to joke around a lot, but on unsuspecting people that
can't read your subtle little signals (that faint twitch in your left eye) that you are not being serious,
you will come off as 1) hurtful 2) creepy 3) annoying. Don't assume your audience is super-sophisticated and
will pick up on your amazing sense of humor that only five people in the world get. It's a fine line between
being too subtle and too obvious about your humorous talk but with practice it will become clear. Being overly
dramatic with a smile is usually the best way to go - if in doubt.
So here is the real structure:
Mock negative emotions:
Communicate a negative judgement about them, making sure to know that you are not being serious (use body language
and word choice)