TED Conversations

Thomas Hawkins

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When does a conversation become worth while?

I want to know when a conversation is worth while? Is every conversation worth having? Are we just venting or gaining something? Perhaps a little of both, but are they both just as important?


Closing Statement from Thomas Hawkins

It seems for the most part that the majority of people determine the worth of a conversation by satisfying selfish and/or mutual group needs. A follow up question would be, do we think about satisfying these needs before entering a conversation? I don’t think that we do on a social playing field, gossip, etc; therefore, it is fair to say that for the majority not all conversations are worth having. Worth while conversations are those where we are able satisfy/solve our needs/questions. Therefore, this must require some premeditative thought, to an extent, depending on severity and consciousness of the individual’s needs and desires of the future conversation.

Although, I’d like to propose and entertain the idea that "all" conversations are worth while regardless of what novel you have written in your conversational speech. The answer lies in the opportunity. This latest conversational masterpiece and/or self-published disaster came into existence through an opportunity to have a conversation. Rather than looking at the end product, maybe we should think about the worth in the opportunity of invention and discovery. I am not denying that some conversations are more worth while than others, some are mundane and draining, good and bad, but I’d like to throw a stick in the spokes and stop the bike of “reward thinking”. It is worth while to debate, question and be curious toward even the most “unworthy” topics of choice. We may not even satisfy our own needs, but be there for another to talk with. A shoulder to cry on, if you will.

Is it possible to find reward without having won a race? Yes...

ps. Just a little note of thanks. Thank you for all your comments, really interesting points of view. I also must say sorry for being on the "down low" as of late. Busy days. All the best

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    Sep 15 2012: Hi Thomas,
    To me, each and every conversation is worth while because they all offer the opportunity to learn. That being said, however, I also know how, when, and with whom I want to learn on a regular bases.

    Some people do indeed simply "vent" their anger, over and over again, and in my perception, that kind of conversation is not interesting. Some folks also have their own agenda, which they insist on continually presenting.....that also is not interesting for me. I have no desire to participate in the very same circular conversations while a person is always trying to prove him/herself "right", more knowledgeable, more insightful, superior, etc. To me, those types of conversations are important only in that they tell us a lot about that person, who cannot successfully "engage", but rather, is always trying to dominate.

    The very best conversations in my perception, are those in which both, or all participants are open minded, open hearted, and genuinely interested in engaging and exploring ideas worth sharing:>)
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      Sep 15 2012: hello Colleen. thanks for a well drawn reply

      I agree that the best conversations are those where all the participants are open minded, etc, makes for an interesting filed of play, for sure.

      May I ask, if every conversation is an worth while because they all offer the opportunity to learn, is the "worth" in the learning or the opportunity?
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        Sep 15 2012: My pleasure Thomas:>)

        I perceive EVERYTHING to be interconnected, so I say the possibility of "worth" is both in the opportunity and the learning. It would depend on the perception of the individual, don't you think?

        We cannot say what the "worth" is to someone else, we can only know what we perceive to be of value for ourselves. We could, as individuals, be totally excited about an interaction and perceive it to be absolutely, wonderfully insightful and informative, while another person gets nothing from the interaction...yes?
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          Sep 16 2012: Yes, i do think so. Precisely why I posted this question in fact.

          The fact that a conversation is, in my belief, where two or more people communicate reciprocally, the idea of value is hard to determine for each individual as one person may take more from any one conversation than the other(s). However, like you pointed out earlier Colleen, the opportunity to learn or take from the conversation was a level playing field for all. Therefore, I thought that perhaps the "worth" would be in the opportunity or even in the ability to talk to another.

          You also said that, and quite rightly so, the connections between all these factors are value markers. Therefore determining any "one" value is difficult for us all
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        Sep 17 2012: Hi again Thomas,
        I agree that the opportunity CAN be a "level playing field for all", if all participants perceive it in that light. As others have mentioned on this thread, people have different objectives....different agendas and intent, so everyone may not see the opportunity as a "level playing field".

        I have encountered a person here on TED who thinks s/he is superior to everyone else,
        and calls him/herself a "winner", when they perceive the conversation going as s/he would like. That is their own perception, and if that helps that person feel content about the interaction, so be it.

        I believe TED conversations are about sharing ideas, so I do not perceive "winners" and "losers" in conversations. I like participating with people who perceive this forum as a "level playing field" on which we all share ideas worth spreading:>) That's my personal intent and objective, and I believe it is the objective of most people participating in this forum.

        Again....I don't believe we can determine the value for other individuals. That seems to be information we all determine for ourselves?

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