The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The extra mile

What is a conversation for?

It depends.

One way to determine what it is for is to observe how it unfolds.

It’s an observation that teaches us what the individuals in the conversation are trying to get out of it. It also teaches us how difficult it may be for people to find ways to align their objectives in the conversation and how they thus stay apart.

I remember a conversation with a colleague who had told me how difficult it was, at times, for him to be heard. Observing our conversation, I started to see how this happened. He was so focused on showing his competence, that he lost track of what I had asked or only heard the part of my question he could answer. And I, on my side, was letting it happen, just to be able to get a better sense of what was happening between us.

It was a nice conversation. And a better description might be, that we both found a way to enjoy our respective idea on how the other contributed to the time we were spending together.

Had we both wanted to explore a subject together, we would have had to transform the conversation. It would have foremost required us to become aware of our respective experiences and to then ask ourselves if we want to change them. It’s only then, that the question would have become what we want the conversation to be for.

Depending on our choice, we would have to voice that choice or to align ourselves with what we perceived as the other person’s objective.

Neither choice would have been a guarantee to achieve a common “what’s it for”. But both would have clarified our objective and position in the conversation.

The extra mile is there to think about what it means to spend time together.

It can even be a shared conversation.

The more of these we have, the more we get out of the time spent together.


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