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Handing the Conversation Back


For reasons I do not understand, a couple months ago I started the experiment of handing conversations back to people when they offered them to me, and waiting to see how long until they handed said conversation back to me again. I would like to say I've been shocked and surprised by the data I've gathered, but I'm really not.

The experiment goes something like this:

Them: "Something really interesting! Let me talk for a bit about this interesting thing. Okay, I've talked about this interesting thing long enough. How are things with you?"

Me: "I'm good. I'm doing this thing. What do you think about this?"

Them: "Why, I think this way about this thing! As a matter of fact, I'm going to talk a long while about this thing that leads into this other thing. I'm going to continue talking for a while."

Okay, okay, the conversations don't really go like that. But they don't really not go like that. And I find the structure of my conversations with friends, strangers, acquaintances, family, coworkers, and adversaries all pretty much go this way, and all of them are fascinating in their consistency.

This isn't to say I'm bored in the conversations. Quite the contrary, I am far, far, far more fascinated and interested in conversations these last few months than I think I have been in a long, long time, possibly ever. I listen to my conversation partner, because I don't need to speak, I don't need to interrupt, I don't need to figure out how to counter an argument or top their story, I don't need to get my point across, because all I need to do is listen and wait for them to hand the conversation back to me.

I started this experiment because I noticed, and immediately hated in myself, that I interrupt. I interrupt a lot. I believe this habit has developed from working in Silicon Valley and in tech, where to be heard, I had to interrupt, because all the guys were interrupting. When the style of speaking is to be an asshole, you're an asshole to fit in. And when you stop, look at what you've become, and decide you don't like it, you change. This experiment was my way of changing, my way of watching (myself and others), my way of becoming who I want to be.

And it has been FASCINATING. I love it. The closest people to me didn't even notice I started doing it. We all like to talk about ourselves, it's hard to see when someone else isn't talking.

What do you think? Is this your experience, too? « I just handed the conversation back to you.

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