Social Question

plethora's avatar

How would you define a conversation?

Asked by plethora (9570points) February 22nd, 2010

Some seem to think that a conversation is simply talking. I think it is much deeper and more complex, at least a good conversation is so. I see a conversation as a weaving together of the minds, verbally, building on itself as it progresses. But that’s my view, in brief. I would be interested in your comments.

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16 Answers

troubleinharlem's avatar

the use of speech for a formal/informal exchange of ideas.

according to google.

ChaoSS's avatar

Depends. Would it be online, real life? Also, with what person? A mother and child? Father and son? Boyfriend and girlfriend? Two guys talking about sports?

But a well rounded guess is our way of expressing our inner feelings to the world and to others.

VohuManah's avatar

A conversation is a voluntary colloquy between two or more people; it’s one with meaning and value. You could also have a conversation with yourself, but that’s just weird.
Don’t you agree, Vohu Manah?

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I see a worthwhile conversation as a discussion that goes beyond a brief interchange of social niceties that are more are less scripted by the situation.
In it two people explore a topic of mutual interest, even if it involves one person’s life more than the other.
There is an exchange of ideas and perspectives within an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust.
Even where the individuals disagree on all or some aspects of the matter under discussion, both people should come away from the experience satisfied that the activity they shared brought them closer as people, even if only for a brief time and that the discussion was intellectually stimulating and personally gratifying.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

There’s different levels of conversation.
I can have a light topical conversation with someone on the street or I could get into a serious deep conversation with long time friend or lover.
I can also have a tense conversation with the guy at my front door trying to sell me something I don’t need.
We’re having a sort of conversation right now. It might not be on the level of the Vulcan mind-meld but it’s a conversation.
It’s a broad topic that defies a single simple categorization.

plethora's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Thank you. That’s very much how I see a conversation as well. I particularly like “an exchange of ideas and perspectives within an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust”.

Cruiser's avatar

It doesn’t always have to be that dramatic but I for one would welcome more of them to be so connected and dedicated to such a purpose as passionate, intelligent exchange of information. So often I get one or two word answers when I am looking for meat and potato communication. That is why I carry a Tazer and hit again and again until I get the conversation I am looking for!

plethora's avatar

@Cruiser Tazer? Good idea. I am dealing with that problem right now. Damn, I get tired of asking meaningful questions and getting one-sentence answers.

qashqai's avatar

I think that all the conversations I am involved in have to be complex, thought provoking, constructive way of interchange ideas. Life is too short to waste it talking just for the pleasure of giving air to the mouth.
We can start talking about whatever you want, but be prepared I want to know more, I want to know what you think about it, if you ever encountered the situation we are talking about, what are your suggestions and so on.

Finding persons who can bear this kind of conversation, however, is rather difficult.

augustlan's avatar

To me, a good conversation is much like what @Dr_Lawrence and @VohuManah have described. Unfortunately, in ‘real life’, such conversations are rare. That’s one of the reasons I was first drawn to Fluther… the chance to experience more good conversation.

plethora's avatar

@qashqai @augustlan Very good. I agree with both of you. I’m not sure I have realized that such conversations are rare. I’m always disappointed when I don’t get it and wonder why the other person is clueless about conversation.

Jeruba's avatar

I think the key elements are that it be spoken, that there be a common language so that the parties comprehend one another’s speech, and that two or more parties participate.

I agree that a good conversation is not common, although I would not call it rare either because I have them frequently. Trust is nice but nonessential; I can have a good conversation with someone I have just met and barely know. However, each party does have to respect the role of the others as equal participants.

plethora's avatar

@Jeruba I think I would agree with you, but in addition each party has to be willing to participate. I’m pretty good at getting people to talk, but have met some who just can’t seem to go beyond small talk and then they shut down. Others, take me up on my efforts to have a conversation and then take over and talk nonstop and endlessly. Then 30 minutes into a marathon talking jag, stop and say, “well, tell me about yourself”. I’m speechless at that point….and bored.

Jeruba's avatar

@plethora, I’ll grant your stipulation. My response assumes that a conversation is already taking place; i.e., prerequisites such as willingness have already been met.

If someone is not capable of going beyond small talk, I will discover that very quickly and move on. As for a nonstop jabberer, well, that person is ruled out by the requirement to respect the role of others as equal participants—simple give and take. Sometimes you can spot that person before you engage and divert your course.

And sometimes he or she is interesting enough to listen to!—especially if you can guide the verbal stream with your questions and interjections so that it goes where you’d like it to go. When I encounter a true expert in some field, I do this and learn a lot. But I have to acknowledge that this is more like a lecture than a conversation.

plethora's avatar

@Jeruba Would agree totally with you.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Good conversations are by no means rare. They are practically the only type I participate in. I don’t have many people to whom I must talk, I talk with whom I choose. It’s not so easy for people in the working world who must deal with various others with whom they would not talk if it were not necessary.

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