Having Good Conversations


Two men have a conversation
Photo by timrb, via Flickr

Liz Waid and Colin Lowther look at how to talk to people in a better, deeper way. They look at the art of conversation.

Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2  

And I’m Colin Lowther. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand - no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 3  

“When was the last time that you had a great conversation?”

Voice 1  

This question was from the thinker and poet John O’Donohue from Ireland. Anyone can have a conversation. It is just two people talking to each other. But what is a great conversation? He asked this question on the public radio program On Being. He continued, describing the kind of conversation he was asking about.

Voice 3  

“When was the last time that you had a great conversation? A conversation in which you heard yourself saying things that you did not know that you knew? That you received from somebody words that found places within you that you thought were lost. When you had a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you to a different place. When did you last have a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards? I have had some of them recently, and it is just amazing. As we would say at home, they are food and drink for the soul.”

Voice 1  

Have you ever had this kind of conversation? Some people think that conversations can change the world. But the world itself is also changing. People spend less time talking to each other and more time using technology to communicate. And this affects the way that we have conversations. Is it still important to spend time in face- to- face conversation with each other? What are some ways to do that? Today’s Spotlight is on having good conversations.

Voice 2  

A conversation is a way of talking to another person. It is an exchange of ideas. By exchanging ideas, it creates new ideas. Like John O’Donohue says, it brings people into a new place together. Another writer, Thomas Zeldin, describes conversation this way:

Voice 4  

“Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they do not just exchange facts. They change them and reshape them. They see different meanings in them and engage in new ways of thought.”

Voice 1  

In the past, there were no televisions, video games or mobile phones. People spent time talking in person. In many cultures, it was important to be able to have a good conversation. This showed that a person was friendly and intelligent. It was also a sign that he or she cared about and respected other people. And it was a way for people to share ideas - and create new ones together.

Voice 2  

But technology has changed the way that people have conversations. In some ways, the internet has made people more connected. A person can very easily talk to someone else across the world! And more and more people use mobile phones to communicate. They often text each other instead of talking. It is easy and quick.

Voice 1  

But this easy and quick method affects a person’s ability to think about problems in a complex and deep way. Instead, he feels he needs to share many things quickly - maybe just because he can. Sherry Turkle is an expert in technology and communication. In a TED talk, she explained:

Voice 5  

“We use technology to define ourselves. We share our thoughts and feelings as we are having them. We used to think, “I have a feeling; I want to make a call.” Now our first reaction is, “I want to have a feeling; I need to send a text.”

Voice 2  

But communication like texting does not have the same result as a good conversation. John O’Donohue talks about whether modern people have lost the ability for connecting in this way:

Voice 3  

“I think we have not practiced it enough and so we need it more. And I think it is a matter of concentrating really, just concentrating. If you understand how important to your whole spirit — and being and character and mind and health — friendship actually is, you will take time for conversation.”

Voice 1  

When we have less conversation, we miss this important relationship with people. We do not understand the complexity of other individuals. And we do not feel as supported emotionally. We also lose the chance to experience new ways of thinking. This is an important part of how humans create.

Voice 2  

Talking can change the world! However, many people have never learned how to have a good conversation. Talking to other people may make a person feel nervous or afraid. He may not know what to say or how to behave. Celeste Headlee is a radio interviewer. Her job is to have conversations with people. Headlee gave a TED talk called ‘Ten ways to have a better conversation.’ Here are a few of her suggestions:

Voice 6  

Be Present. Concentrate on the person you are talking with at the present moment. If you do think about other things, put them out of your mind. You can think about them later.

Voice 7  

Enter every conversation thinking that you will learn something. Listen closely. Every person has had different experiences. Every person has a different way of seeing the world. Be open to learning from people you talk with.

Voice 6  

When you are talking, try not to say the same things over and over. And try not to talk about too many small details. People will not remember exact times, dates and names. Instead concentrate on sharing your thoughts.

Voice 7  

Lastly, be interested in other people. If you are truly interested in learning from them, you will. You will probably learn something about yourself too!

Voice 1  

Following this advice takes practice. But a good conversation is worth the work. Sometimes people do not take enough time to talk and listen to each other. They miss the chance to know each other and the world. It is like people live together but are in the dark. Many people think that the world would be better if people had more conversations. Thomas Zeldin is one of these people. In his book “Conversation, How Talk Can Change Our Lives”, he writes:

Voice 4  

“I think we should start conversations to get rid of that darkness. We can use conversations to create equality, to give ourselves courage, to open ourselves to strangers, and most importantly, to remake our working world.”

Voice 2  

Do you think good conversations are important? Was the advice in this program helpful? Tell us what you think! You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. And find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at http://www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Having Good Conversations.’

Voice 2  

You can also get our programs delivered directly to your Android or Apple device through our free official Spotlight English app. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you enjoy talking to people? What do you usually enjoy talking about?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
bac
said on September 26, 2016

This store is very useful for me to change my daily habits. Thank Spotlight so much.

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Felipe Alexandre
said on September 26, 2016

Tank’s Spotligth. I’m learning English and this texts is amazing!!! Every day I learning new words e this is help me much. I just thank for your work.

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piotr.r
said on September 26, 2016

very nice, thank you!

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Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 26, 2016

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) (Severino Ramos)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: answer to the questions above
Date: Monday 26, September 2016
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Liz Waid, Rena Dam, Colin lowther, and Michio Ozaki:

At first, I want to thank you to bring us readers and learners of English more one great article. Thanks!

Yes, I do. At work , in the hospital where I work for I have to talk with my co-workers such as: nurses, doctors, patients, and other people to solve the health problems of the patients. So, we usually enjoy talking about health issues.
However, when I was a child I spent a lot of time talking with my grandmother about many subjects such as: the environment, the animals, the trees, the rain, the sun, the moon, the sea, the silence of the night, the stars, and etc. I was wonderful time to me so I learned many things with my grandmother in Pernambuco countryside where I was born and I lived until my 18 years old. My grandparents is not alive any more but I remember so much of them.
At home, I talk with my cats Fred, Frederico, and Francisco. When I am leaving home to work they start to cry because they know that they are going to stay alone for many hours. Then, I tell them that do not worry I am going to return from work at night and you stay be quiet.
When I travel to São Joaquim do Monte in Pernambuco countryside where my mother (Isabel) lives , we talk about several subjects such as: the weather whether it is hot or warm, when it will rain because there is very hot, we talk about my sisters, we also talk about her good neighborhood and her friends, and etc.
My mother lives in this place with her husband who is not my father. My father died a long time ago. So, when he died I was 15 years old.
Therefore, when I return from my mother’s house I arrive home and I continue alone with my cats.

The best regards,
Severino Ramos

Kaleb Kolaibi's avatar
Kaleb Kolaibi
said on September 26, 2016

I think that the conversation face to face is important but the technology become more using this era.
Yes, I enjoy talking to people but not all-time and not with all people.
I enjoy talking to serous intelligence people.
I enjoy talking about religious and political issues.
Actually I using the technology, mobile and computer, more and more in contact and conversations.
I think that the important advice in this program is leasing to other people.
God bless you

Avatar Spotlight
Giant
said on September 28, 2016

Conversation is wonderful, through which we can learn the experiences of others, especially highly experienced people.
Thanks spotlight for all .

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talahata
said on October 02, 2016

Of course, i think a conversation is important. With me, its so interest in a a good conversation, i usually talk with my friends to be relax and understand more about them. Even, sometime a conversation between my friend and i for share our problems in our life. And at that time, we can help each other to solve our issues.