As opposed to listening to refute, or listening to respond.

Sometimes I simply have a conversation. I find they spring up through a crack in the concrete: A random encounter begins with some words exchanged per social norm, and quickly expands as both sides shift their focus to the person before them. More often they push up through fertile ground; a social gathering where, “get together and socialize,” is literally on the agenda. My journey exploring conversation began with these found conversations; I simply found myself having cool conversations.

I soon learned that I love creating conversation. I began trying to create conversation, (between myself and one or more others,) initially simply for fun and later in the context of recording podcast episodes. I was surprised to find that having recording gear, an agenda (“I’d like to interview you about…”), and simply acting like I knew what I was doing, was sufficient to get things going!

If I truly do want to engage in a good conversations, it turns out that my actions follow automatically. I share things about myself and doing so invites the other person to share. I take things seriously which conveys that I value the interaction and what I’m hearing. I express my interest directly by asking questions about what—in the moment, not the day before—is interesting; questions which show the other person I’m generally curious. Overall, I demonstrate that I’m listening because I’m interested, rather than because I want to immediately do something with what I’m about to hear.