My work really revolves around conversations. I host unhurried conversations and I help people have difficult conversations. When facilitating meetings I often work to shift away from unwieldly one-to-many formats towards more conversational ways of working.
The longer I work like this the more fascinated I become with the patterns with which we converse. So much more goes on in conversations than the words exchanged. That’s true of fabulously satisfying ones as it is of deeply frustrating ones.
That’s because there is a dance in conversation. Beyond the words said and the ideas expressed is the dance between the speakers. Subtle pattens of pace and rhythm dramatically affect the experience. The origins of the word conversation lie in the Italian conversare meaning to turn or dance together.
The dance can take many forms, and its nature will keep changing.
I can’t pass up the opportunity here for another Monty Python clip which I think about a lot when watching people try to be assertive. Often, when trying to say something challenging. people nervously say too much, too tentatively. They end up wittering on, which can be intensely frustrating to the other person – the opposite of the intended effect. The flip to this is that the other person will often become abrupt and fierce. The challenger provokes the very response they were afraid of.
And we get a fish dance.
What sort of dances do you get into in your conversations?