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The joy of a good conversation

Have you had conversations about all the upheavals in the political situation?

Conversations were held online for the word “Brexit” which came to stand for the EU referendum.  Google trends provides an interesting table of countries and search results for the term “Brexit.”

Searches for BrexitBut there is nothing quite like a good conversation with a real person, face to face.  I would guess the numbers of conversations in the UK and elsewhere outnumbered the search results as people tried to puzzle out what was going on.

Who do you talk to if you want a good conversation?

conversationEver since the referendum vote I have found myself having many more conversations with a few people.

Not with everyone I know.  I was surprised by some of my friends or family.  I had assumed they would enjoy talking about the same things, and they did not.  Or not with a level of interest that matched my own.

Others, to my surprise, have proved to be far more satisfying to talk to.  I was starting to wonder why I wanted to talk to some but not to others. Looking back over my recent interactions I have deconstructed what makes a good conversation.

What makes a good conversation “partner”?

They enjoy a good conversation!  It is so obvious, but is the most important thing.  Because I enjoy and am energised by a good conversation, I like to talk with someone who does the same. They are up for an exchange of ideas, and they are open to the idea of sharing.  The important elements are that

  • they understand the concept of taking it in turns,
  • they can listen, 
  • they have views themselves which may be different from my own.

If the other person doesn’t join in and have some sense of fairness about speaking and listening the conversation loses its spark.  The other person has to enjoy the process as well as the content.

Some people will talk at you.  Queen Victoria remarked that Benjamin Disraeli, the Prime Minister, used to talk to her as though he was addressing a public meeting. Useful when in the House of Commons but not so good in a one to one situation where the other person needs to be seen, heard and responded to.

We are all different and some people are far far quieter than others.  They need to think things out inside their head, and then produce their ideas fully formed.  My ideal conversation is where the other person can contribute ideas even if they are not perfectly developed, and is open to something interesting happening in the space between. The conversation is a creative process and you don’t quite know where it will lead especially where the other person broadly agrees but has a distinctly different angle.

People with completely different views may be interesting to talk to for a while, but they would not be my first choice as conversation partner.  There might be an interesting skirmish or two, which is always good value, but not much afterglow once the conversation is ended. Indeed where members of a family have had very different views over Brexit it has been hugely problematic. I had conversations recently with friends face to face with very differing opinions. We all decided not to risk the friendship by engaging in arguments and discussing politics at all.  Luckily this worked well and we had a fun evening talking about other topics.  Sometimes it is better to withdraw, and live to fight another day.

Social media has been alight with responses to all these changes.  You had the chance to engage over wider issues rather than simply your niche.  There is a reinforcement of values provided you pick your platform and your followers.  I do know some people who have left facebook for the time being as they found it very difficult.

Sharing conversations

In Britain we no longer meet every day as a tribe over the cooking pot, fetch water from the river, or naturally go to the market square and meet others.  But we still need to talk through what is happening in our world. It is important to share big changes with real people as well as through social media.

Your customers may be feeling isolated as they may be different from the people around them.  Do they look to you for guidance? Could your voice help them to know what tribe they belong to? As a business with customers you may be surprised how many of your customers respect your views about life as well as the specific way in which you help them.

If you don’t feel very confident about social media we have a Summer Special Offer over at Attract Readers for Get Seen in all the right places at www.attractreaders.com.

What about you?  Have you been exercising your conversation muscles recently?  Has it been a good experience?

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