What is a conversation? It is the back and forth sharing of information, opinion, viewpoint or updates between people. It takes at least two people to be in a conversation. It takes a shared and agreed upon language or method of communicating. It does not have to be face to face, although facial expressions and body language add to the content. Can a conversation be in a text? Can you disagree? Can you have a conversation with an infant? With a stroke victim who has lost the ability to speak? Can you have a conversation if one person is using jargon or terminology that the other person does not understand? Can you have a conversation if one of the parties changes the topic before you are finished? Is it a real conversation if you are attempting to converse while the other person is texting, checking for messages, or looking for a sale on Amazon?
You see, conversation is an art. To be a good participant in a conversation, one must focus on your conversational partner, and be a good listener. I think you must enter an ongoing conversation respectfully, and just listen for a while before you jump in. If after listening for a few minutes you realize that the conversation is personal or private, excuse yourself and catch up with them later. When you are in a conversation you have to listen to what the other person is saying before you respond. It’s easier to keep the conversation going when you know something about the other person’s interests or the topic under discussion. However, if one asks good questions, that will keep the conversation going. You cannot force a conversation with another person. If the other person honestly does not want to converse with you, you cannot have a conversation. Be conscientious and do not waste another person’s time by going on and on and on. Perhaps after a few minutes, you will have satisfactorily concluded your part of the conversation.
Conversation is like a game of ping pong. One person “serves,” or starts the conversation with a particular topic. Another person “returns” by listening and then adding a comment or question that stays on topic. The conversation is bounced back and forth between two or more people until the partners cannot keep the conversation going any longer. Then it becomes another person’s responsibility to “serve,” or start a conversation on a different topic. Again, the conversation topic is bounced back and forth and each conversational partner adds a comment or asks a question when he or she “receives” the conversational turn. One must not monopolize the conversation. Then it ceases to be a conversation and becomes a soliloquy. A good conversation is about a topic that is easily shared and bounced back and forth productively. It is important for all partners to understand when the conversation is over, and know how to gracefully move on.
I am not particularly good at cocktail party conversations. I’ve worked very hard to become a better listener, and I have tried to think of some topics I could discuss before I’m in the situation. For example, I could talk about a good book I just read, or a great National Park I visited. If I’m in a group of singles, I know it’s not a good idea to talk on and on about my children or grandchildren. I also know better than to bring up something controversial, like politics, unless I know the the other people in the group concur. I’m working on it. I would love to have a conversation with some of you! I’m great at conversations about teaching young children. Check out my “Unlimited Mentoring Program” on my website. We could talk about language and conversation development—one of my favorite, and most well-informed topics!
It is vitally important to practice conversations with our children, of all ages. For ideas on how to have conversations with your young children, yes, even babies, please refer to our Learn To Talk Around The Clock™ Talking Tips newsletter. The September-October issue features “Conversation” as its theme. You may go to www.learntotalkaroundtheclock.com and scroll down to the section where you can sign up for the newsletter. After you receive the November newsletter, you will have access to previous newsletters. The one at the top of the list should be September-October, “Conversations.”
Thank you for conversing with me. I’m done now. Over and out. K