Wednesday, January 29, 2020

On Conversation

I've been thinking about how I have conversations with people.

I have this extremely weird way of exerting dominance in a conversation: I listen.

I know, that sounds impossible. What I do, though, is encourage someone to talk about themselves, then ask follow-up questions that are generally pretty penetrating.

In doing so, I bend the conversation toward what I want, which is to talk about real things.

I'm really, really bad at small talk. I don't like it, I don't understand it, I don't want to engage in it at all. So by listening, that doesn't happen. The conversation almost immediately drills down past all that, into something else.

The something else is the conversation I want to be having.

Most people, after I do this, will eventually start asking about me, and instead of skimming the surface, they'll ask real questions, too. They genuinely listen, because I listened to them. Then we have a good conversation, and I wind up with a strong notion of that person.

Some people do nothing but talk about themselves. They never show any interest in me. That's fine for both of us, because I know to stay away from that person, and they won't ever have to pretend to listen to me. Everybody wins.

The reason I bring all of this up is because I always thought I was very passive in conversations. When I thought about it, though, I was actually being the opposite, just in an unexpected way.

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