The art of conversation

Is the art of conversation becoming lost?

I’m not talking about that tricky talent of communication.  This isn’t one of those discussions to help us communicate more effectively.  I’m still trying to learn that myself.

No, I’m referring to conversation.  Small talk, big talk, just talk in general.  Let’s put aside the common liability of modern technology.  I think most of us can agree we are all doing a pretty decent job of killing the English language one text and Facebook status at a time.  Or maybe it’s our competitive mindset that we have to win everything.  Even a simple conversation.   Whatever it is, real and true conversations are beginning to be hard to come by.

Or maybe it’s just me.

In my limited experience, there seems to be more toppers around.  I’ve even been accused of such an annoyance.  It’s my goal to change my conversational style and learn to share but not top.

There’s such a delicate balance between healthy sharing of experiences back and forth.  That’s what a conversation is, right?  The building of a common story between at least two people.  When done correctly, both participated by hearing and telling stories that relate to each other in some fashion.  That is conversation.  A give and take.  A time to listen and a time to speak.

The scale gets tipped when a topper is in the mix.  A topper is someone that basically bests any story or experience anyone can share.  He or she only listens enough to retrieve a similar experience in his or her memory database and tell it.  Toppers must win the conversation.  Correct me if I’m wrong but conversations are not competitions.  When I find myself in an escalating dialogue, I try to step back.   Not every story needs to be told.  Not every story needs to be heard.  That is the tough part for me to learn – selecting the right audience at the right time.

Have you ever overheard two toppers going at it?  They race down a chatty road until one concedes to the other.   Always concerned with experiences rather than connections.  Perhaps, they think that the experience automatically makes the connection.  But did either of them even hear the other person?  Should we hand out medals to the best or most miserable?   Will that give them something to talk about?

Here’s my goal.   I will listen more.   I will learn to share in order to enhance the common story – not to overtake it.  I will promote the art of conversation.

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6 thoughts on “The art of conversation

  1. Yes, I know what you mean, I have heard people having that kind of conversation. I think men are more prone to doing this than women simply because they feel the need to compete with other men, especially when they are young, and by the time they are middle aged – they’re an expert at telling and no longer listen. Although women can be good at it too! I have a couple of aunts who I always feel like I’m talking to the wall most of the time. Their minds are so full of their own thoughts, they almost don’t hear anyone else. This can be a big problem if you have just arranged when and where you are going to meet them. They will always assume that I got it wrong. When all along it was their long term habit of – not listening! 😉

  2. I guess there are all types. And we all fall into more than one category, I’m sure. I just want to practice my listening skills but there is a fine line. Too much listening and not enough contributing or sharing and you get pegged as “boring.”
    It really is a fine art. And a no win situation for some of us. 🙂

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