Blog > What is a conversation?

April 13, 2010

There appears to be a resurgence in conversation. I’ve heard this a few times lately: “We need to have a community conversation about this [issue]”.

That’s a nice shift from debate. “We need a national debate” has been a cry long heard in Australia on issues ranging from indigenous health to water allocation. Debate presumes an argument, with winners and losers. Conversation presumes a sharing of perspectives and exploration of options. Sometimes it’s simply tossing around thoughts and ideas to see where it leads us.

Conversations are often the cultural glue that binds people, or opens minds, or surfaces our differences. Instead of trying to win you over to my way of thinking, a conversation is about understanding – ourself and others.

So I’m in favour of conversations.

Why then, when conversations are organised they often include a single person, with a microphone, talking to many who passively listen? I’m pretty sure the audience is intelligent, and would have a lot to offer in such a ‘conversation’. So let’s keep the conversations going AND open them up.

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