I have often thought that we individuals experience life as attendees at a concert where each of us can only truly see the view from our own sight-line or those we have had in the past. Since it is impossible to occupy every seat in the course of one lifetime, broad insight requires us to listen and learn from others who are viewing from other angles. If we cannot listen, we cannot learn. If we cannot effectively articulate our thinking we cannot easily offer our valuable part perspective to the collective whole. The give and take of a balanced conversation is critical to continued enlightenment and growth. A good conversation allows space for the different speakers. It is not a one-way exchange, where certain participants clutch the talking stick and never let it go. How many times do we come out of a social setting and feel that we gleaned nothing new or positive from the exchange? Those who are good listeners can often feel abused or emptied by those who talk but never listen.
I find few people are good at the art of conversation today and many seem to be unaware of basic etiquette. I believe this deficit extenuates feelings of loneliness and distance from one another, not to mention a waste of valuable opportunity for understanding. I thought this article on 10 essential rules to be a good conversationalist was an excellent primer.