How do you have a good conversation

How does a good conversation come about?

How does a good conversation develop?

A really good conversation with another person is balm for the soul and inspires. Unfortunately, these conversations are rather rare. Too often we are preoccupied with ourselves, want to get rid of our worries and needs and thereby miss the chance to have pleasant conversations. What makes a good conversation? And what can we do so that we can enjoy more good conversations?

We are constantly exchanging ideas with others, at home, at work, on the cell phone, by email. Despite this excess of communication, we will rarely say that we had a good conversation, a real encounter. What is the quality of a good conversation? Even if the content was difficult or complex, we then feel stimulated, energetic and deeply touched. Bad conversations, on the other hand, wear us out. They make us tired, leave us bored or irritable.

What goes wrong in many conversations?

Do you know these conversations that are full of empty phrases and empty phrases? Or conversations in which subtle as well as destructive competitions are made about who has the better vacation, the more stressful job, the more successful partner or the harder fate? There are several reasons for unsatisfactory conversations:

  • The interlocutors are too busy with themselves.
  • You don't question yourself, but look at and judge everything through subjective glasses.
  • Showing off, regardless of whether you want to impress with knowledge or win the victim cup.
  • You talk past each other and don't listen, but form the first mental sentences while the other is still speaking.
  • You don't take the other person seriously and you may show that through body language.
  • Questions are asked and assertions made that unsettle the other.
  • The content remains superficial, impersonal, maybe even abstract. The interlocutors seal themselves off. Empty phrases should protect against attacks or injuries.
  • You don't understand what the other is talking about or what he means. It can make things even more difficult if you don't make an effort to change this.
  • A position is taken that is impregnable like a bastion. Dialogue and dispute are confused.
  • Minute-long monologues, possibly about inconsequential events, but which are carried out down to the smallest detail.
  • Fast flow of speech and thoughts that does not allow the other person a break.
  • Constant interruptions, you interrupt your conversation partner - in the worst case, you jump around on different topics.

More than 50 years ago, long before the digital age, the religious philosopher Martin Buber regretted that real encounters rarely take place and that we tend to "meet". For Buber, conversations were above all real encounters between people "who have in truth turned to one another, express themselves unreservedly and are free from pretending. Today we communicate on more channels than ever before, but we hardly speak to each other.

What makes a good conversation?

Man cannot live without conversations, they are essential for us. Imagine if you were given an hour a day for free with the task of filling it with a conversation. Who would you like to speak to? And what about? The English philosopher and historian Theodore Zeldin has found a very simple answer to this: on interesting topics that invite you to learn as much as possible from others and at the same time reveal a lot about yourself. If you come out of the conversation differently than you went in, you can be sure that it was a good conversation. This is what defines an encounter: everyone wins and is enriched.

Good conversations enrich both interlocutors

A good conversation does not necessarily need preparation. Real encounters can arise suddenly and spontaneously if the conversation partners are willing to take their time and are less fixated on results and solutions. Instead of wanting to deliver prompt solutions or reflexively placing our statements, opening oneself to the other person's point of view can create space for inspiration and depth. If you are really interested in the other person, eliminating or thinking away from prejudices is the first important cornerstone for a good basis for conversation. Inner distance to one's own positions enables a different dynamic in the conversation. Instead of a dispute or monologue, there is a dialogue with gain in knowledge that can withstand contradictions and different points of view.

Lively conversation means give and take

Every good conversation needs at least one person to stimulate it and someone who gets involved. It takes a curiosity about the other and a desire to weave conversations. Every lively conversation is spiced up with questions. There are people who are born storytellers, and there are people who have to be asked a lot of questions. The better we listen and understand what the other needs, the better the questions get. But please suppress the possible impulse to impress the person you are talking to with particularly clever questions.

If you drop all judgment on the interlocutor and dare to ask questions down to the smallest detail, you get the chance to really see someone. These conversations require strength and effort as they require attention, knowledge, and practice. At the same time they build up, inspire and give back strength in many ways.

  • Buber, Martin (2006): The dialogical principle. G├╝tersloh publishing house, G├╝tersloh
  • Hartkemeyer, Johannes F./Hartkemeyer, Martina (2006): Thinking together: The secret of dialogue. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart
  • Schulz von Thun, Friedemann (2010): Talking to each other, disturbances and clarifications. Rowohlt, Reinbek
  • Storch, Maja / Tschacher, Wolfgang (2014): Embodied Communication. Communication begins in the body, not in the head. Hand Huber publishing house, Bern
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