Before we start… Let me share with you an essential fact about human beings first
A conscious soul and a physical body, these two parts constitute the human being. Both parts have their own needs. The needs of the body are material – quantified, finite, and limited. The needs of the soul, on the other hand, are qualitative and are required in abundance by everyone at all times. For eg. trust, love, happiness, truthfulness, justness, compassion, etc. Material needs are satiated by producing things using the body. The needs of consciousness are fulfilled by having interactions and relationships with other human beings. When the needs of both parts are fulfilled, one attains the default mental state of total bliss.
A conversation is much more than a casual chatter or superficial exchange of information. Conversation between human beings has a deeper connotation. It is a subtle art of ‘connecting’ with each other as human beings.
Conversation means meeting of two or more individual minds with different life experiences, backgrounds, or cultures. Every mind has its own understanding and has something of value to share. A lot can be learned from others and if we wish to do so, we need to be a part of meaningful interactions. This stands true for all aspects of life: career, relationships, personal growth, etc.
“Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others” – Voltaire
We are human beings. Our interactions with other human beings are the only source of all the beautiful bonds, memories, and experiences we create in our lifetime. Genuine conversations encompassing authenticity and empathy give us quality experiences that enable us to understand our being and existence deeply.
Having said that, the poor quality of conversations today is obvious. Conversations for most people are just a means of ‘getting through’ — a necessity, a formality. Add to it the lying, manipulating, pretending, impressing, etc. that have become the new normal in conversations. All these unhealthy habits have been imbibed by us from the unwholesome ideas prevalent in education and culture. These have turned delightful human conversations into shallow mind games. This wrong but very common approach toward other human beings has turned most of us into cheeky and unceremonious conversationalists.
Our one-to-one conversations tend to be robotic, repetitive, and meaningless. We never really access or connect with other people during the conversations. Our conversations are nothing but a waste of energy, time, and effort. We talk just for the sake of it. We have long given up our natural way of communicating and connecting at the human level.
We are taught the philosophy of communication, we are fed with the knowledge of languages, but nobody teaches what communication really is and to make conversations.
The need for human beings is to realize that the goal, the essence of communication is not influencing, persuading, manipulating, or appearing learned. Communication is about conveying ideas & experiences and establishing connections. Creating pleasant memories and a feeling of love and compassion for others should be the single criterion for all our conversations.
I have summarised my tips on fruitful one-to-one conversations below:
- Participate delightfully, ask good questions. Active participation eliminates the chances of miscommunication and misunderstanding. As individuals, we want knowledge and understanding. To this end, all questions popping up in our head need to be resolved. By asking good questions, we get a clear understanding of the subject matter. Good questions are those that actually serve a practical purpose in life and not just philosophical jargon to prove oneself learned.
- Be mindful, listen attentively. The golden rule for any conversation is listening patiently with the intent to connect with another person and understand him. This gives us a grip over conversation and shows that we are genuinely interested in what is being communicated.
“There is a difference between listening and waiting for your turn to speak.” -Simon Sinek
- Be receptive to opposing opinions. Becoming receptive is just about understanding that what we believe is acquired knowledge and can be changed by using free will. An open mind allows us to be receptive to other people’s thoughts, no matter if they are opposite to our own. To have an open mind means knowing the existential truth that all human beings are the same in essence, even though the experiences and expressions differ. With the power of free will, each one of us is able to create our own perceived realities. Those realities are unique, different, but we human beings are essentially the same. As these perceived realities align with actual reality, there will be no opposing opinions.
- Do not assume, do not pretend. Making assumptions and being pretentious creates confusion, it leaves a room for mistrust to grow. We hold this false belief that we can outsmart others through this behavior. Such mind games are not only bad for conversations but ravage the relationships too.
Implement these principles in daily life and transform all one-to-one conversations. The result will be a very fulfilling life with more meaningful conversations and lots of pleasant memories.