Great conversations

Some conversations have this warm sense of companionship. Why do some discourse have that and some do not? I talked about it with my girlfriend the other day and I think we found something. Let me try to describe how I see it now.

Talk is just talk. It is not a description of reality, not even a description of our understanding; these are more complex than can be put into words. True agreement is an illusion – we cannot understand each other fully.

The surest way to kill a conversation, therefore, is to aim for absolute truth. When you try to make sure everything you say is correct, a few unfortunate things happen: the pace of the conversation slows down, it becomes very serious, and you become irritated when the conversation doesn’t lead to the way you see the world. Consequently the conversation becomes less stimulating and attendees start to drift off.

When you accept that you will not be able to convey your exact thoughts or feelings to others, a positive feedback loop appears:

Another way to look at it is that great conversation is story-telling. The number one thing for a good story is suspension of disbelief. As long as the reader accepts that the events are believable in this story, the story makes sense. In great stories most events stem from the story itself, and are not introduced by the author’s will.

So it is in great conversations. First you create the setting, and then you go wherever the conversation takes you. You accept that you don’t know where it will end, and you dive in. Isn’t that stimulating?

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