Something simple to try in conversations

Last night, I was outlining conversational techniques. By “conversational technique” I mean things like “ask for an example/ generate a hypothesis”, “repeat back, in your own words, what the other person just said”, “consider what would make you change my mind”, etc. and the times when it would be useful to use them, so that I could make more specific Trigger Action Plans. I quickly noticed a way of carving up the space which seemed useful to me and potentially interesting to my (currently non-existent) readers.

In a conversation, second to second, you may be trying to understand what another person is saying, or you may be trying to help them understand what you are trying to convey. There are perhaps some other possibilities, such as trying to figure out a new domain together, but even then, at any given moment one of you is likely to be explaining and the other listening.

It seems quite useful to me, to be tracking which you are aiming to do at any given moment, understand – or get someone to understand.

Being aware of who is doing what allows two conversationalists to coordinate, verbally and explicitly, if need be. A conversation is apt to go better when participant A is focused on listening while participant B is focused on explicating, and vise versa. Discussions often become less manageable when both parties are too busy explaining to listen.

Before I start training more specific conversational TAPs, I’ve started paying attention to which of the two I’m doing second to second.