song against sex

The Art of Mind-Blowing Conversation
July 13, 2010, 4:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Let’s face it: as Aces, conversation is what we’ve got. Cuddling is all well and good, but when it comes to creating close relationships with others we can basically figure out how to have soul-touching, mind-blowing conversations or we can get busy feeling bored. I want to talk quickly about how conversations work and how to reliably make them powerful and interesting.

A conversation is an animal. It’s created by the people who start it, but it has its own life and it’s own heartbeat. You can’t really control conversations without breaking them, but you can learn to tame them, feed them, and lead them in interesting directions. Outright control of a conversation is manipulation, and it’s a nasty business that tends to preclude the really interesting possibilities. What I’m talking about here is facilitation: gently nudging conversations into more and more powerful territory, without really understanding what will happen beforehand.

Conversations are like animals in that they evolve over time. This is great news, because even though science still doesn’t understand conversations that well, we do understand evolution. Recent research in a field called emergence or complexity theory has demonstrated that systems which evolve have a surprising amount in common: from ecosystems, to economies to cities to the development of the internet. In all of these systems, and in conversations, the same basic process happens over and over again. If you understand that process it’s possible to nudge it along, to take the slowly grinding wheel of evolution and give it a few extra shoves.

It turns out that internets and conversations and fungal spores and social movements are all just doing the same three things, over and over and over. Pretent for a second that you’re a DJ, looking out over a packed club that’s just beginning to move. You’re swapping beats in and out, trying to figure out what gets the crowd moving. As you swap songs and watch the crowd, here’s what’s going through your head:

Differentiate– Some types of music get the crowd moving and others don’t. Do they want hip hop or reggea? Top 40 or mid-90s? How do they respond when you up the bass?

Select– Of all of the musical choices at your fingertips, you want to identify just the ones that get the crowd moving.

Amplify– Now queue up more of the stuff that works and less of the stuff that doesn’t.

Repeat– Now you’ll be able see how the crowd responds to your new, amplified music and refine it even further. As the crowd shifts over the course of the night, you’ll be able to shift with them. You just keep repeating all night long: differentiate, select, amplify, differentiate, select, amplify, until the crowd is going wild.

The same basic principle is true for conversations. In conversations you’re not (necessarily) trying to get people on the dancefloor, you’re trying to create emotional resonance. Believe it or not, when you have a good conversation a certain part of your brain, called the limbic system, actually syncs up with the brain of the person you’re talking to. Like, if both of you were sitting and chatting in an MRI machine your limbic systems would sort of pulse in unison. Dogs have limbic systems that are bigger than ours, which is why you can make eye contact with a dog and instantly feel like you’re having a conversation.

Limbic systems sync up when you are feeling the same thing as someone else. The connection gets stronger when the feeling gets stronger, and when you become more accutely aware of the fact that someone else is sharing it. If DJs want to get people moving on the dance floor, adept conversationalists zero in on shared, strong emotion.

Read the rest at Love from the Asexual Underground. :)


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