The Art of Conversation

In Life on February 7, 2013 by thebetweenthoughts

How often have you been in a conversation…let’s say you’re talking about a recent item in the news…and once you’ve finished your point, the response from your conversation dance partner is a tangentially-related topic that is focused solely on them?  It’s not a conversation, it’s a series of unrelated points spouted out in alternating order.  I enjoy conversing…the most memorable moments in life are those conversations where you actually feel ideas being born.  They don’t have to be world-changing or profound ideas…but they are thoughts that bring some new insight into the world.

…those moments are rare though, especially in the professional world in which I currently operate.  When you’re surrounded by people who are “senior management”, I’ve noticed that they feel their thoughts are more valid than others.  Their position and their standing infuses their thoughts with importance and validity.  But it’s not just thoughts in their specific areas of expertise, it’s their thoughts on any subject.  I tend to approach conversations as opportunities to learn, either about the person speaking or about the topics being discussed.  The senior managers that I know approach conversations as opportunities to deliver their talking points.  They don’t alter their thoughts based on the information being exchanged or on the flow of conversation.  They just speak…without listening.

To use the dance partner metaphor from before, we’re listening and enjoying a waltz and these people are just waiting for their turn to tango.  This lost art of conversation is ever present though.  We’ve been conditioned through our political “debates” and talking heads shows to shout out our points and ignore the words being spoken by the person sitting across from us.  Whoever is louder is the winner.  When we converse with friends, colleagues, random people we meet on the street…we come prepared with talking points and close off our mind to any new thinking.  It’s not even talking “at” each other instead of speaking “with”…we’re actually talking “past” each other.  The only role of our dance partner is to make use feel less lonely…less crazy as we converse with ourselves.

(I also realize the irony of ranting about this in a blog post, as I’m essentially speaking “at” all of you.  But isn’t one of the best parts of blog reading, pointing out all of the inconsistencies and contradictions? ;P)

I’m looking for dance partners…ones that are willing to listen to the music, to synch up our steps, and to flow into areas unexpected and profound.  You interested?



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