The best witty comebacks use someone's words against them, but you can't do that if you don't hear what they're saying. When it comes to conversation, having a sharp wit means being a great listener.
Photo by Lan Bui.
Abigail Paul, the artistic director at the Theatre Language Studio (TLS), says most of us don't listen to the whole message when someone else speaks. We're too busy thinking about our own points and planning what we want to say.
But to make a witty comeback, Paul says you have to quickly react to what's already been said. Timing is everything and you can only fire back fast enough if you're paying close attention to each word.
Otherwise your brain has to shift gears from planning your next point to making an actual retort and by then it's too late — all that comes out is "uh, well, so..." And if you know someone that regularly makes snide remarks, it's extra important to listen carefully and turn their words back on them.