Talking Past Each Other

When I was younger, I was very passionate about the idea that conversations are basically the answer to everything. That’s a little oversimplistic, but I think the fundamental insight I was trying to express was that people have very different contexts and different mental models of their respective contexts, as well as different models of one another’s contexts. Conversation is useful because it helps people to get slightly more aligned – I develop a better appreciation of your context, and you develop a better appreciation of mine.

The problem with most conversation is most people are talking past one another. We’re looking to confirm our own biases, we’re looking to stick to our own talking points. Venkat talked about this in flags vs portals.

An annoying thing that happens in bad conversations is dramatic oversimplification. We should always try to express our conversation partners’ perspectives so effectively that they agree with our model, before we even begin to try and contradict them.


Leave a Reply