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Posts Tagged ‘conversation

Real conversation has an unpredictability, danger, and resonance; it can take a turn anywhere and constantly borders on the unexpected and on the unknown.

John O’Donohue

deep-in-conversation
Photo by polandeze.

Conversation as an Art Form

Conversation is an art form. It is a place of beauty and delight. When conversation flows, it can lead to great insight.

Similar to dancing, it involves movement back and forth. There is often a leader, and a follower, although this can change numerous times throughout a conversation.

Conversation is also a playground of the imagination. Many conversations follow predictable patterns, which is useful for beginning and maintaining relationships, but rarely leads to new depth or insights.

A beautiful, well crafted conversation can transform your life. There are some people who I can only speak to rarely, because I know that everytime I talk to them something within me will change and become new.

Tools of the Craft: Listening and Speaking

conversation
Photo by procsilas.

The danger of conversations is that we fail to fully enter into what the other person is saying. We are easily distracted, either by our own thoughts and worries, or by thinking about what we will say next. Two tools I have found helpful for moving beyond these dangers are active listening and centred speaking.

Active listening means listening fully and carefully to what they other person is saying, both in their words, their body language, voice tone, and emotional posture. Once they have finished speaking, it is often helpful to repeat what has been said in your own words, to clarify what you have heard, to absorb it into your being, and to clarify for your conversation partner their thoughts. Often we are unaware of exactly what we are saying until it is repeated back to us.

Centred speaking involves pausing for a moment to reflect before saying what is on our hearts. This moment of reflection allows us to be clear about what we are truly thinking and feeling, which can be very different from what we originally want to say. It shows great respect for your conversation partner that you care enough to get your words exactly right.

The Silent Stillness Where Ideas are Born

the-game
Photo by moriza.

Conversation can be awkward, especially during moments of silence. I often try to escape conversations that have become awkward by babble-speak, or more often, by leaving the room altogether. However, like any type of art, conversation takes a lifetime to master, and holding firm when things get difficult can pay great dividends. It’s often the most awkward conversations that end up being the most honest and truthful, and that end up changing who we are.

The Flow of Conversation

Conversations can be like the creative state of flow. In the state of flow, we are both challenged and absorbed by what we are doing. The worries of life move to the back of our minds, because the creativity and imagination of what we are doing takes hold of all of our being. The sense of self disappears, the beauty we are creating means we lose consciousness of our own presence, if only for a moment. Time becomes irrelevant, it disappears in a wonderful way, appearing not to exist at all.

Building Rapport: A Story

Recently I had a job interview that went really badly. I was nervous, I stuttered in answer to questions, and I failed to engage with my interviewers. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.

The reason that I didn’t get the job was because the conversation with my interviewers didn’t flow. This was partly because it was a panel of seven interviewing me, and they were reading questions from a script. However, I could have worked harder to build rapport and to engage more fluidly.

Building rapport allows conversation to become more intimate. It liberates you and your conversation partner to be yourselves. Salespeople build rapport manipulatively, to convince you to give them what they want.

The ways to build rapport are known by most people, and simply learnt. Yet few of us take the effort to consciously put these tools into practice. The best ways to build rapport are to:

  • Hold gentle eye contact
  • Smile at the moments of delight
  • Mirror body language
  • Match tone of voice and speed of speaking

Some of these things we do naturally, others we have to learn. I naturally mirror body language and match my voice tone in any conversation that I am enjoying. However, I often forget to maintain eye contact and to smile.

Your Thoughts

What’s the best conversation you’ve ever had?

What characteristics did it have that are similar to being an artist?

How does ’conversation as an art form’ apply to blogging?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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