Lesson 2: Elements of a Conversation

Silhouette of two people talking in front of an open window.

Name(s) of student(s):

Age and grade level:

Goal from IEP connected to lesson:

Objective from IEP connected to lesson:

Purpose of lesson: To listen to stories depicting proper and improper social skills to discuss appropriate greetings, dialogues, and conclusions of conversations.


“You had the opportunity to teach and model specific social skills to an elementary-school student last time we met. Continuing our understanding of proper social skills, we will discuss an overview of conversational skills. These are helpful to grasp because they encourage positive relationships. They’re an insight into what friends or coworkers desire in a friend or colleague: one who listens, respects, and shares. You will listen to two realistic stories, and we’ll talk about what can be improved.”

Discussion: Elements of a Conversation

“Before I share the story, I’ll summarize the elements of a conversation.”

  • Greeting: The purpose of a greeting is to acknowledge the other person by saying hello or welcoming them into a brief or lengthy conversation. The formality will depend on whom you are addressing (a handshake when meeting a potential boss or a “Hey! Good to see you!” when meeting with a friend).
  • Dialogue: Dialogue is the back-and-forth sharing of ideas, thoughts, questions, and plans. The goal is a well-balanced, reciprocal dialogue, meaning both parties share and are interested in the other’s perspective. Specifically, in the conversation, each person can ask questions, inform, add to existing ideas, assert needs, agree or disagree, listen, share emotions or feelings, and steer the conversation. Avoid interrupting, constant self-promotion, endless talking without listening to the other person, and consistent negativity when dialoguing.
  • Conclusion: You should not exit a verbal conversation without saying goodbye. If you’re conversing with a friend, a simple “I need to run. I’ll talk with you later” is appropriate. When ending a conversation with a coworker or boss, a more specific and formal conclusion, such as, “I have to get going in about two minutes (preparing the individual)… I must go. I’ll see you Wednesday at 4.” is appropriate.

Exercise: Short Story 1

“Listen to the greeting, dialogue, and closing of this conversation between Gia and Matthew, acquaintances since first grade. Communicate any elements, as you hear them, contrary to the helpful social skills we learned.”


“Hey, Gia!”

“Hi, Matt. Heading to Algebra? It sucks today. Mrs. Monroe talked nonstop; the lesson was way too difficult. Nobody can understand when she teaches. Oh, and did you smell the nastiness coming out of the cafeteria? Disgusting.”

“Oh. No, I didn’t. Did you finish your English homework last night?”

“Matt, nobody finished the homework. All our teachers give us an hour of homework, and who can finish 6 hours? Nobody. What’s with all the—”

“Bye.” Matthew interrupted and ended the conversation.

“I happen to know Matthew is tired of Gia’s constant complaining. Her negative attitude was amusing at first, they had some fun talking badly about the school, but over time it became unpleasant. Matt occasionally says hi to Gia, but now doesn’t give her much feedback and interrupts her to escape the conversation quickly.”

Exercise: Short Story 2

“Listen to the greeting, dialogue, and closing conversation between Maria and Jake. Maria is the general manager at the restaurant where Jake is newly employed as a host, who seats guests at tables. Communicate any elements, as you hear them, contrary to the helpful social skills we learned.”


“Jake, how was your first week?” Maria inquires.

“Hey you. I thrived off of the fast pace. I remained calm and composed. I was helpful and offered assistance. I think I was made for this job—since volunteering at the retirement home, I have had many opportunities to interact with people. I think you’ll enjoy having me here because I work hard. Did you notice I folded napkins and cleaned menus when business was slow? Nobody had to tell me to be productive with my downtime, I did it alone. ”

“Good to know. Thanks, Matthew.”

“‘Hey you’ is certainly inappropriate for a business relationship, and Matthew’s self-promotion only made him look self-absorbed. How could Matthew have communicated his skills and interest in the job without excessive self-promotion?”


Ask the student if he remembers conversations when he received poor social skills and how it affected his feelings about the other person.

Is he aware of any social skills he could improve upon?


“Today, we talked about social skills involved in engaging in conversation. We discussed polite greetings, helpful tips for the dialogue of a conversation, and appropriate conclusions or goodbyes.”

Progress notes, data collection, comments, and modifications: