The Skilled Art of Conversational Interaction: Verbal and Nonverbal Signals in Its Regulation and Management

  • Geoffrey W. Beattie
Part of the NATO Conference Series book series (NATOCS, volume 11)


This chapter will differ from many others in this book because it concentrates upon one specific, single, low-level social skill. Many of the other chapters will provide broad and general accounts of higher-level skills and direct criticism of the concept of social skills. This chapter will provide a different kind of criticism of social skills by presenting an argument almost in the form of a fable (and I don’t mean by this that the story is untrue), in that the chapter will, hopefully, illustrate some general principles (in this case, of skilled social performance) by providing a detailed account of one low-level but common phenomenon. Unlike the characters from traditional fables — the woodcutters, the bakers and the shoe menders — the central figure in this story has not been chosen at random. The central figure in this story, the process of turn-taking in conversation — seems to have always been near the centre of the stage in attempts by social psychologists to apply the concept of skill to social performance (see Argyle, 1967, 1974; Argyle & Kendon, 1967). Here, I want to provide a detailed and up-to-date account of the way in which this phenomenon has been approached by social psychologists. Through so doing, I hope to demonstrate that psychologists are now, at last, coming to grips with the complexity and richness of some of the more basic processes which underlie all skilled social performance.


Nonverbal Behaviour Traffic Signal Traffic Light Spontaneous Speech Conversational Interaction 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey W. Beattie
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldEngland

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