Practice Making Your Conversations Like Making Music!
In an interview (Venice Magazine, June 2007), jazz legend Ron Carter, answers the question, “What can jazz teach us?” Carter answers: “The need to acquiesce. By that, I mean the ability to step back and look at someone else’s view. On the bandstand there are all these different opinions, different points of view on one particular song. Our job on the bandstand is to feel like one person, and you cannot do that until you take a step back from yourself. You need the capacity and the emotional comfort to step back and ask, “Is this guy’s idea better than mine?” and if it is, to make it work.”
Michael Kahn, PhD, makes a similar point in his wonderful book, The Tao Of Conversation. A good conversation is collaborative just like a good jam session. The musicians listen hard to each other, follow one another’s lead, alternate leading and following, and support each other in the theme that is being developed. “However wild the theme someone might introduce, his comrades will find some way of bringing it into the composition, of changing the composition so that it includes that theme. Often one musician will get hot and take off on a solo ride.But it is never really a solo ride. It is influenced by what his comrades have been doing that started him on the ride, and it continues to be influenced by the way they are supporting him, backing him, riffing under him, playing quiet stuff around him.” (Page 11)
Kahn impresses on the reader that conversation can be like a jam session. “It seems unlikely that anyone would want to say that any one musician’s interpretation of the tune was “right.” What draws our attention is not that there are right and wrong improvisations, but rather that each one sparks and stimulates the others, and what emerges is a composition that no one of the musicians could have done himself.”
Conversation can be like this. We listen closely, follow each other’s lead, support each other’s idea, and contribute thoughts and encouragement to our partner’s development of their idea. A good conversation can be like good lovemaking. In this kind of conversation we feel good about each other, closer, and more connected.
I have loaned or recommended to couples more times than I can count. Perhaps you would like to read it together. You might be interested in my free workshop by the same name, ‘The Tao of Conversation”
Still striving to value your idea more than my own,
Robert Ogner, June 11, 2009