Day 22: The Art of the Conversation
Something I have been thinking about lately is how to conduct a good conversation. Like, the science of a good conversation.
What makes a good conversation?
Nothing annoys me more than when you are trying to talk to someone and every other second they are looking around, distracted or not caring what you're saying. Damn annoying! So something I have realized recently is that eye contact is so crucial when you are talking to someone. In fact, I have been trying to break down the science of the conversation.
There are two different roles you play when you are having a conversation. One is the person who listens, and the other is the person who creates content to talk about. As for being the listener, it is a crucial role to play. But the key is to first, not interrupt your content creator. There is nothing more annoying when you're on a role, telling a story, literally at the climax of it!!!... and someone budges in and tells their own personal opinion about it. Yo! I am the one telling the story! But this is what being a listener is. It is really about being an observer. Understanding what body language the content creator is using, what words they are using, what tone they are using. Mixing all this into a conversational cocktail while being a listener is key. It is also important as a listener to know when to ask more questions, as in, when to dive deeper, and when to turn the conversation towards yourself. This is a balancing act that one must figure out over time. And I am still trying to figure out the balance of this one.
Being a listener also takes timing. When to insert your own opinion. If you just listen, listen, and listen, and never take the time to make small comments, your content creator will not feel like you are engaged. You have to be constantly engaged in what they are saying, word for word. Finally, bringing back the concept of eye contact, listening means consistent eye contact. As a content creator, I believe you are free to look around, look for inspiration, look for space for your vocal ideas to float around. But as a listener, the only job you have is for you eyes to be locked with the other persons, and to take in what is happening. Locking eye contact can be uncomfortable, but you just gotta do it. Soon enough, you'll be engaged in the conversation.
Now comes the job of the content creator, more commonly known as the speaker. Like I stated, it is just as important of a role as the listener. As the speaker, you are free from the role of eye contact. Your eyes can float around as much as you want. Its natural, in fact, to want to look around when your mind is looking for something to say. As for what to say, it is incredibly important to gauge how your own personal rants, opinions, etc., are being perceived. What this really comes down to is balancing between talking about items that only yourself can reflect on, or sharing items that the listener can have input on. Sometimes, it is going to be strictly the former. That is okay. But usually with someone you do not know as well, you're gonna want to stick to the latter. And this is a balancing act, because there are times when vulnerability serve you extremely well. Vulnerability opens up a conversation just as water and sunlight open up a flower.
And this is where I come to one of my ultimate objections over smartphones. Since when was it okay to be having a conversation, whip out your phone, break eye contact, break whatever the hell you were in the middle of, and text that Tinder date you just had the previous night. This really comes down to the fact that we have to focus on one person at a time. I am just as guilty as anyone in this instance, and I want to stress the fact that I have done all these things!
My goal is to ultimately open up the conversation. I am sometimes too scared to talk about these things. But it is crucial we start to open up our eyes, and make eye contact with the things that control us the most.