Conversation, defined – to the core, as an exchange of information between two or more parties – is a mode of expressing truths. Usually, but not limited to, casual utterances and formal conveyances, this exchange in speech unites two or more parties under an umbrella of exchanged truths – witting or unwitting. However, most conversations are rooted in the expression of desired perception – i.e. each party wants to, in at least some small manner, elevate themselves in the mind of their audience or co-participant in conversation.
Most times, but not all times, this manifests itself through a series of revelations regarding something one party assumes the other party to be ignorant of or less-informed/enlightened about. Classically speaking, five styles of communication are employed in the context of a conversation: 1) Dialogue: the tw0-way exchange of information with the aim of reinforcing or creating a relationship with the listener(s). 2) Debate: A two-way competitive communicative structure where both parties try to win territory in respects to the information discussed. 3) Diatribe: a one-way, competitive speech domain that lends little to relationship building where both parties are assumed equal. 4) Discourse: a one-way, cooperative speech domain where the assumption is to offer equality through the information provided – so as to ‘invite’ the listener(s) into an enlightened/informed territory where broader conversations can be had. The precursor to dialogue for parties on unequal footing in regards to the information to be conveyed. 5) Devious: a one-way speech domain veiled as a tw0-way discourse or implied dialogue – the aim isn’t competition, but rather it is to coerce cooperation through manipulative speech.
Communication, to the damn core, is a series of utterances that serve to warn the listen(s) of something dangerous; something that isn’t – i.e. what is safe. Most of us have seen a film or show that holds a scene were soldiers, officers of law, or teammates use short and veiled signals with one another – the fore & middle fingers gestured toward the eyes and then implied in the direction of a threat or target is a classic example of this; early human communication was rather similar. In that, a progressive complicating of these non-verbal person-to-person signals evolving into relayed communication expressing the similar essence of safety or danger, i.e. etching, paintings, drawings, etc. on fixed objects such as trees/caves or an assembly of objects (sticks or stones) signifying the presence of either danger or prosperity. At which point, the ‘game’ of survival evolved into a cooperative endeavor where relationships were formed/maintained through compassionate truths.
So what, if any, importance does this carry in our lives now? Well, specifically, it manifests itself in your personal relationships – as the bulk of exterior communication happens without your desire or influence. Now that we acknowledge the practical domain for the implication of ‘proper speech/communication’, how can we better ourselves and our lives through bettering our speech or communicative abilities. Well, first and foremost, you must be willing to accept what you do not know to be true and to not be a source of insecurity – i.e. the catalyst for nearly all unhealthy interactions. And then, once you’ve accepted what you do not know, listen carefully to find out as to whether the other party knows something you don’t know.
This doesn’t mean to assume another knows more, but more so that they may know more than you, and that what they know could be utilized to better signal you of dangers or safety [prosperity] in life. Also, listening carefully – when you’ve learned to listen precisely for the aforementioned ‘five types’ of communication – you’ll not only when something is safe or dangerous, but more importantly, when SOMEONE is safe or dangerous. And that, if you hadn’t been aware or accepted, is a key element in your success in the series of ‘games’ that orient you throughout your life – i.e. knowing a possible employer, colleague, love interest/mate, proprietor, etc. of having a mutually shared interest of good, or a one-way interest intended upon dominating you and unfairly imposing tyranny upon you as a result. In other words, terrible relationships that do not benefit you whatsoever and will likely end in your descent into Life’s lower rungs or, at-the-very-least, stagnate whatever ascension you had the potential for. As Michelle Obama once said, “Choose your teammate wisely”.
I won’t/can’t teach you how to precisely ‘spot’ the tyrant or the teammate, as it would take several chapters of information to do so, but I can give you a quick tip on what to be cautious of: the sort of speech that tilts itself toward exaggeration – be mindful of conversation that cedes little territory. Also, know that all conversations should tilt toward betterment – the exchange/conveying of information intends to better/empower/inform the individual; NOT elevate the speaker without elevating the listener. That is, in a complex form, the classic primate dominance dynamic. You see, a ‘good relationship’ MUST be therapeutic – anything else is NOT a relationship, it is manipulation.
THAT is, to the core, what to be mindful of in conversation. And make no mistake, conversations are gateways to relationship, and the conversations you have or allow to happen, they’re foundations for what relationships you’ll. It is a rather simple concept, in that, if the pretense isn’t beneficial and cannot be verified as beneficial through the cross-examination found in healthy dialogue, well, who (nay, what) you’re interacting with isn’t benevolent, it’s malevolent. This doesn’t mean everyone conversing with you his ‘twisting their mustache’ while hatching a scheme to subdue and subjugate you, because sometimes they’re just ignorant, insecure and their ignorant insecurity manifests itself through lies meant prolong the period in which they can formulate a plausible reality – i.e. someone misinforming without the desire to harm you, but more so to spare their ego or status in the mind of the listener(s).
Here is a healthy example. There are good and bad anythings, but much like all things, the degree of either depends on their placement on perpendicular spectrums- competence & intent. If the misinformation is solely competence, the aim isn’t to subdue, but more so to spare the speaker of what had been assumed that they knew or were competent in conveying. However, if the intent is to misinform for the sole purpose of elevating the speaker without the want to elevate the listener, well, that tilts heavily toward dominance and isn’t good for the relationship. In other words, find the where the degree of competence meets intent, at the intersection, and you’ll find precisely who you are talking to – a weak ego (which can be survived) or the weak character (which can be vengeful).
In psychotherapy the relationship between implied competence of the therapist and desire for competency from the patient, this is called ‘The Pyschotherapeutic Alliance’. Which, essentially, implies that the patient engages in a truthful dialogue with a therapist in which discourse is employed to benefit the patient – i.e. neither party enters, truthfully, the conversation believe they know precisely what is wrong, but more so that they are determined to find a beneficial space where the patient can reengage society as functional and more so well-equipped to be successful in society – personally, professionally, and romantically.
Pay attention to the speaker, assume that you may be ignorant of something they’re saying, and figure out when the speaker is benefiting your or them.