The Give and Take of a Good Conversation

I used to think that when you struck up a conversation with someone, whether they be a friend, classmate, or total stranger, that the conversation usually flowed. You said something, they responded, and it would generally flow to a simple conclusion. Sometimes, a good conversation will just keep going, with ideas and thoughts, seemingly totally unrelated to wat you started talking about, popping up and keeping things rolling.

I love those conversations. They tend to be fun and you get to know a lot about the other person.

But apparently, there’s another version of conversation. Sadly, it is more abrupt and a lot less fun. Here’s an example…

“I like butter.” says the first person, IE, me.

“Butter is full of fats and will kill you.” the second person says.

“Oh. Well, I still enjoy it.” I reply.

“Yeah but it is bad for you.” the second person says.

End of conversation… because it is at this time I tune them out and think they are irritating assholes.

Can you see the difference between a normal conversation, and the one I just mentioned? I’ll give you a hint.

The average conversation, as I stated earlier, is a back-and-forth, a give-and-take between two or more people. It is a sharing of ideas and thoughts, even if those thoughts contradict each other. It can be intense, especially when two opposing ideas are brought up. But so long as both sides maintain a respectful and open to other ideas, then a lively and entertaining debate can be had. But generally, a basic conversation is more about people sharing. It’s about communicating with others. It’s about re-establishing bonds with friends and family, or reaching out to others less familiar.

But my example isn’t about conversation. It’s about someone desperately needing to prove something. Or someone needing to draw attention to themselves because otherwise, they might just fade into the background. It’s also about someone who as very poor empathic, or sympathetic tendencies. Everything is about them. They have to win every situation, even if there isn’t anything to win. A conversation isn’t about winning. It’s about communicating.

What about debates? Most would say they are about winning. I would disagree. A debate is about expressing a contradictory point of view and relating its merits to someone who has an opposing view. If both sides are stead-fast in their beliefs, then neither one will change their points-of-view. But, if they are open-minded, they may come to understand the opposing view a bit better. To me, debating isn’t about winning, it’s about the expression of thoughts and ideas.

The example I used above isn’t a debate. It’s someone not really listening to the other person and just interjecting whatever they are thinking. They say it because maybe they can’t relate to anything you’re saying, so they say the only thing they can. It’s a self-absorbed person trying desperately to express themselves and doing it the only way they know how.

Despite what I’ve said, does that make them a bad person? Definitely not. The recent examples I have come across are younger, and a little socially awkward. I have been there. I was very socially awkward. In some ways, I still am. But when I was younger, I didn’t say anything. I’d just sit there quietly, hoping no one talks to me. I’m still a pretty quiet person, in-person, but today, when I’m quiet, I’m also listening, observing, and learning. I have also found my voice, much to many people’s regret, I’m sure.

But unlike the un-conversationalists in my example, I have learned to listen to others, to think of a proper response, and to express myself in a more constructive way than just blurting out something, regardless of the direction of the conversation.

I’d like to say as these people get older, they will improve their ways. But I met a few people who still do this. I also know of people who have improved their conversational skills, but still have a superiority complex, where everything they think and say is right, and everyone else is wrong.

In the end, the rest of us just have to do the best we can when around these people. Hopefully, we can find someone who knows the give-and-take of a good conversation. Then we can talk to them about the others, and how alone they must be.


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