I love talking to people. I love being around smart, curious people discussing things. I like to know, to ask, to ponder, to discuss, to listen. A good conversation is like a free style rap, or jazz, or reading, or hiking through the woods or the city noticing things and sharing it with others. A good conversation is the fuel for so much. Good conversations connect people, ground people, guide people, energize and inspire people. I’ve had the privilege to have some great conversations in my life. And this last week I’ve been able to talk to a half dozen of my favorite people at some length.
Each time I have a good conversation, I am always left with the same feeling: this is important and helpful and I’m an idiot for not doing it more. There have been periods in my life that I felt like I was running off the fumes of old friendships. A good conversation can fill you back up.
It’s an art. Conversation. I’ve seen a slew of books recently making the case that it’s a lost art that needs to be retaught. I certainly think it needs to be prioritized, especially in my life. I highly recommend the book A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer. He outlines how he made a weekly habit of scheduling curiousity conversations with people he found interesting. I’m in the process of figuring out how to do the same thing.
It’s interesting how often we observe conversations as entertainment. Think about it. Late night talk shows, podcasts, news shows, and “news” commentary shows, radio interview shows, podcasts, movies, television, magazine and newspaper interviews etc. It seems like many people consume conversations as a form of entertainment.
I wonder how much depth there is in this. And I also wonder how much actual conversation (as opposed to personal broadcasting and sort of just bickering back and forth) is consumed. If you read (is this true for most?) the COMMENTS under something posted online, it seems to me hard to claim that this is a conversation.
A good conversation requires listening and the desire to understand before being understood. I think it also helps to not have a forced agenda and be willing to follow the thoughts where they need to go. This doesn’t mean you can’t focus on an issue or an idea, but it does mean that you aren’t just hellbent on getting something from someone.
Some of my favorite conversations as entertainment sources are: the web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, WTF with Marc Maron, Other People with Brad Listi, Tim Ferriss Podcast, PBS: Blank on Blank interview show, StoryCorps interviews, Paris Review interviews, the late night comedian interviews, etc. There are many more.
Watching others talk can be instructive and helpful. Notice how they aren’t yelling over each other. Notice how they aren’t looking at their phone while they are talking to each other, etc. Ultimately, secondhand experience isn’t as helpful as first, but it’s better than nothing I imagine. There may be times when watching others exercise, or eat, or paint, or read, or ________ can help you. But you also have to do it yourself to get the full benefit.
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