Life lesson 1: The Art of Conversation

Lesson message: ‘To simply enjoy people as people’

What is wrong with most conversations? Answer: your ego.

In most conversations your ego gets in the way of you having a probing and meaningful conversation.

Let me explain: Imagine you are meeting some friends for dinner. Some good old friends. So you’re all sitting down over a meal over bottles of wine. How does the conversation usually go? I say usually because there are no doubt exceptions. What are the usual dynamics of the conversation? From my experience the participants are usually more keen in getting their views, and their opinions across. Everybody talks over everybody else. No one really listens! It’s a war of egos! A war of tongues. A war of the loudest voice box!

What is wrong with this picture?

Well, several things. This is not a recipe for quality conversation. Quality conversation is conversation where you, yes YOU, are the listener – and you learn something new. And learning something new means listening. A conversation should not be about you getting your views and points across but coming away having learnt something from the other person. Everybody in the world has something to teach us no matter how trifling that thing might be. The thing we learn might be something positive or something negative. A positive thing might be a new fact or a new way of looking at things. A negative may be a a realisation of how stupid or ignorant that person is. But it doesn’t matter, because you’ve learnt something new.

We may not agree with the person doing the talking. We may not share their opinions on a variety of things. We may wish them to change their views and think them crude and wrong and stupid. We may wish that they drop dead. But to simply enjoy people as people. To enjoy people regardless of what we think are their failings and their idiosyncracies and their absurdities – to enjoy people regardless of all these things, that is the secret of the Art of Conversation.

Talk less. Listen more.

They’ll come away thinking ‘Wow! Mr/Ms/Mrs/Frau/Sir/Monsieur/Madame (your name)______________ is an interesting person to talk to!’

Little do they know that all you did,

was listen!

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