A lively group discussion, an intimate tête-à-tête, an inner monologue — in your view, when it comes to a good conversation, what’s the ideal number of people?
Thus goes a writing prompt on Word Press’ The Daily Post sometime ago…and as I ponder, I find not one right number of people to include in a meaningful conversation. It depends perhaps on the purpose or setting.
For instance, in social gatherings in the family, or in school, or at work, the more, the merrier seems to be a good dictum to follow.
However, one should not come expecting a meaningful exchange of ideas, thoughts or feelings. Why? It’s often only an avenue to keep up with each other, or feel/pretend like one belongs and not seem an intruder or outcast. Sometimes big social events have this intimidating effect on me.
Mostly in this setting, it’s more fun to observe where the ball is rolling. Have you ever tried doing this?
Listen carefully and you aren’t sure if you can get the flow..each seems to be waiting to throw their own ball in this verbal ping-pong interaction that often results in a cacophony of voices that falter to meaningless ‘Ohs’, ‘ahs’ ‘uhmmmms I see’. Anyone can just drift in or out. And no one seems to mind. Have you ever experienced something like this? Did it also make you feel awkward?
A lively group discussion can be had when there’s a meeting of the minds – no matter what the topic or where the discussion takes place — at home over dinner, in the classroom, in the gym, on the street corner. You can sense people in the group are having a great time storytelling, debating, or simply exchanging views because each one listens, each one responds accordingly, and each one has learned something. That’s the biggest take away!
It’s not really how many people that matters to make a conversation meaningful. For as long as each participant gets into the flow — each voice speaks up, each gives a listening ear making everyone feel positive about themselves, the people they’re with, and the interactive moment –then it’s good, for it brings out the best in each person in the group.
What about you dear readers? What makes you feel good about a conversation? Share your thoughts down below.
Note: I originally posted this in 2016 and this is my revised edition (2018).