Conversation is Like Dance

How is Good Conversation Like Dance?

  • awareness and focus on one’s partner
  • joy in precision
  • balance
  • fluidity
  • harmonious tension
  • passionate attention
  • respect for each other’s personal space


nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 07:48:36-0400

i will list two:

1. i call it “communicating at *eye level*”
it includes pretty much what you list (except, notably, “joy in precision” which is not for everybody or all cases) but, most importantly, compassion / empathy, which, in this context means attempting to understand how your utterances are being received by the other.
this is threading on thin ice because you cannot fall into the trap of being:
– patronizing
– overly analytical
– predictive / anticipative of how things will play out on the other’s head
if i were to describe the state of being this necessitates, i would have to say *”openness*”, an openness that permits you to listen – to both yourself / yourselves & to the other(s) – in all their richness & complexity & to attempt to bring forth further participation, from both of you, from parts that may be dormant, timid, undeveloped, repressed, what have you

2. humor humor humor

nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 07:50:28-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:13:40-0400

[i am crazy about the video &, after i hit “Post comment” below i am googling OK Go who, in skyscrapers, make just the sort of dreamy, yelpy, snarly, pretty sound i like]
i see: these guys have received awards for their videos already…
i have to find this Of the Blue Colour of the Sky album…

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 07:55:32-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 07:55:54-0400

+nomad dimitri Those are good. Humor, yes. I think I would have said, “playfulness”.

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 07:57:58-0400

Elsewhere +Michael M. Butler asked me, “How is bad conversation like bad dancing.”

– the partners are unequal and one dominates the other
– one is not careful and steps on the other’s toes
– there is no spark or passion between them. No excitement. When they are just going through the motions

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 08:04:24-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:05:35-0400

+nomad dimitri As a T-type I tend to be quite analytical but that’s why I like the pull of your opposite F-typeness. The tension keeps us in balance. There is always the danger that one of us will pull too hard and then we’ll both fall down. (If that happens, let’s just laugh at ourselves, get up, and start again.)

I do find joy in precision. But I don’t value technique over passion; nor passion over technique. There must be balance.

Roland Byrd – 2012-04-02 08:16:39-0400

I would add that listening (real listening instead of thinking your answer while the other person talks) in a crucial component of the communication dance.

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 08:17:41-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:32:54-0400

A key part–the reason–that I started my own thread was the question “Why do we settle so often for being bad ‘dancers’?”

[It’s not like we don’t “dance” enough! ;)]
From my thread pointing to this one:

I think polemics, when the point isn’t to have an exploration but to WIN A BATTLE, is a really big one myself. Especially on the Intertubes. That’s like some burly guy who looks like trouble saying VEE DAWNCE NOW [he hits you with a “MOSH PIT FIST”] SOCRATIC MESSOD ISS FOR VIMPS UND LOSERSZZZ. I AM A GOOT DANCER JA!

Another big one is being so worried about being heard that you don’t listen. That’s the worry-clumsy “dancing with myself”.

How about repeating yourself too many times because you’re so introverted/aspies/habituated that you lack the habit of slowing down and seeing if the other person is signaling that they “got it”? That’s hard to find an exact analogy for but I think there might be one. I’m just not a good enough dancer yet to know. 😉 It’s not exactly “going through the motions”, it’s more like a special case of “dancing with myself”.

nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 08:28:53-0400

+Michael M. Butler just reading this list & thinking of people that “communicate” like this exhausts me. you have a great ear for bad conversationalists 😉

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 08:30:00-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:30:39-0400

So here’s another big answer for the question I posed:

Sometimes we REALLY don’t want to be dancing.


nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 08:31:01-0400

+Michael M. Butler in those cases, my friend, kindly remain sitted

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 08:33:42-0400

+Michael M. Butler said, “How about repeating yourself too many times because you’re so introverted/aspies/habituated that you lack the habit of slowing down and seeing if the other person is signaling that they “got it”?”

Damn. I’m probably guilty of this. Now I see that the danger of focusing on the bad dancers might make people too afraid to try dancing at all.

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 08:35:48-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:40:38-0400

And THAT is why I asked why we’re such bad dancers. 🙂 BINGO! (Hee hee!) I wouldn’t know about ANY of those traits from direct internal experience, now WOULD I? 😉 )

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 08:38:16-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:38:37-0400

+Michael M. Butler I’m slow on the uptake this morning. I’m in a square dance not a tango. Too many conversations, too many partners. I’m getting dizzy and unable to pay attention. About to trip up at any moment.

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 08:39:24-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 08:40:11-0400

I want to post more about this on my moribund blog. You’re invited to browse it:

The point is the dance! Don’t get stuck in “damn” too long! 😉

nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 08:41:04-0400

+M Sinclair Stevens there is another reason for “repeating yourself too many times”: because one gets too used to talking to “idiots” or people that just don’t get you. +Michael M. Butler ‘s reason is the introvert’s, mine the extrovert’s. i would venture that most people that don’t like to dance are scared that they would be bad dancers. part of the interlocutor’s / partner’s role is to find the good dancer hidden in the shadows. there i go again…
[i have to shut up & get the second half of my sleep. see y’ all in a few hours…]

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 08:43:27-0400

+nomad dimitri GREAT DANCING WITH YOU +nomad dimitri and I get tired of talking to idiots A LOT. It’s a slight flaw in my character. 😉

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 09:57:09-0400

+nomad dimitri Is it fair to blame my partner for my own missteps — however, tempting it is to do so?

I am known for having little patience for idiots. But I make a huge distinction between people who don’t know and who want to learn (to whom I’m very patient and mentoring) and people who don’t know and glory in their ignorance.

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 10:50:26-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 10:52:01-0400

I just got another big hit. INCURIOSITY. It drives me MAD in conversations because of my (doubtless unreasonable or nerdy) ground of being that EVERYTHING IS INTERESTING. I need more modes.
This is an experiment. It’s a poster of Stephen Fry with a quote from the Fry Chronicles. Let’s see if it renders.

Daniela Huguet Taylor – 2012-04-02 11:16:49-0400

Patience… good dancers practice, specially with one another, and don’t give up.

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 11:24:25-0400

+Michael M. Butler To an NT-type the incurious are soul-less. Should I be adding you to my INTJ circle?

nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 12:58:11-0400

+M Sinclair Stevens & +Michael M. Butler : my strongest allergy is against fanatics. i have often be told, very diplomatically, that i do not suffer fools gladly. but that was before i decided to take the nomad away from “interesting” & into “kind”. i am far more tolerant as a result. also, inter-culturally, many very intelligent people can seem like idiots (because they are afraid, for example, that they might lose face, they might offend, because they are superstitious or way more patient to “get to the point” than i am). and, yes, each partner bears responsibility for each partner’s missteps

Michael M. Butler – 2012-04-02 13:23:46-0400

+M Sinclair Stevens Seriously, I’m trying to expand my behavioral flexibility, so I hope not! My home base has been N, with T vs F context dependent. Not much of an actual J but can certainly appear “judgmental” as ALL GET OUT to others. Working on that, too.

Armida Evony – 2012-04-02 13:24:28-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 13:24:48-0400

Yay another cool #INTJ conversation! I have found my dancing has gotten much more advanced since becoming active on G+. As a result I don’t find very many interesting partners on FB anymore. It’s kind of my specialty to do what +nomad dimitri said, coax out the interesting conversation from the introvert in the shadows … but I find that more rewarding with the average G+ “type” than the average FB “type”. And yes I know that’s a huge sweeping unfair stereotype 🙂

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 13:40:26-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 14:13:23-0400

+Armida Evony Perhaps Facebook is populated with those people who you just can’t drag out on the dance floor, even when your favorite song comes on.

There are so many different ways to dance as well. This post was written in answer to some questions which came up elsewhere. Once we get past introductions and feel comfortable, how do we proceed? Not too fast. Not too slow. Not too close. Not too far. Attentive but not fawning. Expressive yet controlled.

And there are many kinds of dance. When we all met on +Youssef Hachhouch’s long thread, it was like a rousing circle dance. Or maybe more like a square dance, with us spinning off new topics at every turn, and then coming back again, and then off with a new partner and topic.

We must all go dancing together again. Too bad Youssef cannot serve some of the great Belgian beer he was talking about.

Youssef h4c2s2fo2u2yea – 2012-04-02 14:07:22-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 22:13:24-0400

The best beers would be too heavy and might affect your dancing negatively.
I think of some dancing where someone wants to flirt on the dance floor, comes (too) close, can’t dance in sync because they are strangers and pulls out all the obnoxious moves to show off.
It’s also fun to dance alone in your living room like an idiot sometimes, but you won’t know how bad you really are if no one sees you.
And then there’s synchronized group dancing, with tight choreography (rehearsed to near perfection, no reflection involved anymore).

Edit: I just noticed I misused ‘drag’ confusing it with French 🙂 Replaced by flirt.

Armida Evony – 2012-04-02 14:20:56-0400

I felt in that other long thread like we were all dancing in the living room together, and nobody was worrying about what anybody else thought, just having fun. That’s why we all kept saying “omg me too! I thought I was the only one!” So let’s definitely have another one of those parties 🙂

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-02 14:29:37-0400

I can’t believe I left this off the list! In both dance and conversation you must be able to trust your partner.

This means two things: your partner must be trustworthy and you must be trusting.

Chryle Elieff – 2012-04-02 14:58:56-0400

A more competent partner can help “carry” a less competent one and make them look good.
Synchrony is important too!

Armida Evony – 2012-04-02 15:08:11-0400 – Updated: 2012-04-02 15:09:02-0400

yes +Chryle Elieff that to me is the definition of charm – making someone else look and feel good in public 🙂

nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 16:30:01-0400

+Armida Evony bull’s eye. THAT is charm!

nomad dimitri – 2012-04-02 16:30:38-0400

+M Sinclair Stevens trust & fearlessness: the threads are weaving themselves

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-03 15:17:36-0400

tango no tango — a word tango — a dance of words

Marc Jansen – 2012-04-08 21:06:06-0400

I like that you mentioned exhibiting empathy towards those you are communicating with, +nomad dimitri As an ISFJ, I am quite literally completely incapable of doing anything else.

Peter Strempel – 2012-04-24 00:39:15-0400

Faaaark, +M Sinclair Stevens, there is no way in hell that I could operate at all, never mind conversationally, with all these constraints and considerations. It’s almost like a suffocating web of politically correct injunctions against saying anything lest someone somewhere doesn’t like it.

The central question then becomes an egotistical, narcissistic one: what the fuck’s in it for me?

I’m not here to echo other people’s opinions or stroke conventional fetishes. I rather thought of this forum as a chance to speak freely and openly about things.

How the hell would I know who is in my audience on any given day? And why would such people read me if all I did was regurgitate their own opinions anyway?

If people don’t like what I say or how I say it, that should surely become part of a conversation rather than an impulse toward censure and censorship.

M Sinclair Stevens – 2012-04-24 07:40:33-0400

+Peter Strempel I was unaware of imposing any constraints. I sought only to articulate the qualities that brought me pleasure.

Peter Strempel – 2012-04-24 07:52:24-0400

+M Sinclair Stevens It’s not so much a personal reply, as a comment to you about the thorny etiquette that seems to arise from the thread as a whole.