Are you a conversation master?

What is the point of having a conversation?  

Most of the time, there isn't.  My late father-in-law would come round with an actual list of topics, written down, and talk at us for an hour and a half.  He was a particularly skilled orator and wrote insightful speeches.  Trouble is, he didn't see that a conversation is a different thing altogether.  He was informing us about him and his thoughts and activities but it was no two way street. 

This isn't all that uncommon.  I know I was never taught the finer points of a conversation.  In my day you listened to your parents, didn't interrupt or answer back or dare to question (yes I'm that old). 

It's a very different scene at the dinner table with my children (their grandparents would be appalled).  There's backchat, raised voices, interjection and lots of laughs (even singing).  Though I'm not sure it could be termed artful conversation. 

Back to the question at hand.  Could the point be too confirm or enquire, maybe to share or entertain, perhaps to learn or clarify.  Never to convince or win.  That's a debate.  

A good conversation could change someone's mind about something but that would be an outcome of exploring a topic with someone.  

Here's what I think should be included to ensure a healthy conversation.  

1.  Recognise facts from opinions.  If you're giving facts know your sources.  If you're giving opinions take responsibility for them i.e. 'I think X, Y, Z'.  

2.  Listen.  Really.  Be present to what the other person is saying.  Not thinking about what you're going to say next or immediately judging.  Let the information sit for a moment.  There's no rush. And don't daydream if the conversation isn't about you! 

3.  Don't interrupt.  I'm am so guilty of this.  Don't allow yourself to be interrupted. 

4.  Don't attach yourself to a fact or even an opinion.  If the other people don't agree it's not about you.  

5.  Don't dominate the conversation.  It's totally natural.  We all love to talk especially about ourselves and what we know.  Just beware and make sure to stop and ask questions too. 

6.  If you're lucky enough to be in a safe space with talented conversationalists don't miss the opportunity by being shy or scared.  By guarding your emotions and ideas you may miss the chance to grow or to be a service to someone else. 

7.  Don't be withholding on purpose.  It's mean spirited.  If you're not going to contribute then why did you turn up?

8.  Never attack the person.  That's called bullying.  

If you are genuinely and authentically interested in another persons point of view then they may just share some very real thoughts.  By not making someone wrong and being open, you could come away with new and interesting insights. 

I have experienced this talking to disparate people all over the place.  Some of which think differently to me for reasons which are as many and varied as we all are.  They're not idiots and I'm not right.  And vs versa. 

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