I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.
George Bernard Shaw
Being a Resident Assistant this year at my University has been an immense blessing in my life, and one of the greatest opportunities afforded to me thus far. I have never appreciated how valuable the art of a good conversation was until I was handed 21 residents with whom to converse.
Although I consider myself an introvert–disregarding outgoing tendencies–I find myself gratified when ending the day with good conversations tucked snuggly in my mind.
Having a good conversation is like reaching the peak of a high mountain; the view from the top is both immensely humbling and offers vast amounts of perspective. The girls that I have become friends with over this past year humble me daily. They are beautiful, thoughtful Creations who put pressure on my own way of thinking, blessing me with new perspective. This is done through the many good conversations I been fortunate to share.
A good conversation is also one that takes effort to reach.
You and I can agree that there is a great difference between a hill and a mountain, and indeed the summiting of a grand Mountain yields much more satisfaction than the Hill at the end of the street. Climbing the pavement Hill leaves one maybe a tad sore and feeling some way depleted in effort and energy. The summit of the little Hill is neither magnificent nor inspiring, and the energy exerted in order to peak simply was not worth the time.
So if the end goal is to be inspired with either humility or perspective, how does one go about hosting a “good” conversation?
It begins with the foundation; it begins with thought. One must actively decide to make the conversation either a Hill or a Mountain before the conversation ever begins. A Mountain conversation often begins with forethought.
Now, do not limit this analogy. I agree with you that there are cases when good conversations begin as hills and take an unexpected turn up Kilimanjaro. Sometimes the intentionality is more subtle, even subliminal. Perhaps the forethought required in beginning a Mountain conversation is deciding to oneself to not let the conversation be limited to a Hill.
That being said, how can one have the ambiguous good conversation?
I am sure there are many techniques for how converse well and I consider myself in no way a master of any of them. At the heart of it, I am not much of a good conversationist. I am still very much a pupil. This is my musing over a technique that has been successful in beginning good dialogues:
I talk about something that interests me.
I think people are very gifted at discerning authenticity from “fakeness”. They are very adept at pointing to when someone is being genuine and when someone is being fraudulent. Therefore, I have found that the best conversations occur when I am the most genuine. Unfortunately, I am not a good actress. It’s difficult for me to convey authenticity if I’m not truly interested in the conversation topic.
So I begin conversations on topics that interest me.
I intentionally choose to begin a path up a Mountain than a path up a Hill.
I say that a good conversation for me requires forethought. Just as it is difficult for me to have a good conversation with someone if I am uninterested in the topic at hand, it is difficult for someone to participate genuinely on a topic with me that they are uninterested in.
The forethought required is observation.
I want to have a good conversation with you. I want to emerge from this conversation with humility, perspective, and some personal development on my own end. I want you to see that I am genuine and I want you to be authentic with me, as well.
So I am going to observe. I am going to observe what you enjoy, what you would want to talk about. Then I am going to match your passions with mine.
I am going to begin the conversation with a topic that interest me.
I am going to maintain the conversation with a topic that also interests you.
And then we will summit.
A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.