Language is dialogue. This is a followup to my last letter in which I mostly talked about your own language, your own style, how you express yourself. But in fact, I have to admit that it stopped short – It didn’t get beyond you.
Language is dialogue. You’re not alone. If your language is like the clothes you wear and choosing your own style … well, it’s not enough to just talk to yourself in front of a mirror … Language is dialogue. And your choice of style has as much to do with yourself as it does with the community you live in and the people who make up your world. Yes, people first judge you by the clothes you wear and … even more, by the way you speak, by the way you express yourself.
Dialogue is feedback. Whether you’re talking to an audience of 2000 or whether you’re talking to one individual, adapting your speech to those you’re speaking to is like making the first move in a game of chess. You make a move. Your partner makes a move. You speak to a large audience; they respond. You feel it. You speak to someone you know. You get a response. It doesn’t matter who begins. It’s a dialogue. You’re always picking up where you left off.
Of course, we all know people who speak to themselves even when they’re speaking to others. How can I say that? We hear them every day. In person. In schools. In meeetings. People looking at themselves in a mirror … with polite onlookers. Have you ever seen anyone holding a phone at a distance from their ears?
Dialogue is listening. And reacting. Dialogue is pause. Dialogue is in time. Do you send and receive email? textos? How quick do you answer? What sort of dialogue is going on? Do you pick up on someone’s style and answer with the same tone?
It seems to me that so much misunderstanding between people comes from a failure to listen. In fact, talking back and forth … without a dialogue.
Two monologues. Each party listening to himself, herself.
When you take the time – and yes, I mean the time – to listen… or to read and take the time and make the effort to think about what others are telling you, are saying … then in fact, before saying a word, before asking a question, you’ve opened … a dialogue. A healthy one.
The best dialogues are those that last a long time. Those that never end.
Who are those with? That’s the definition of … friends. Friends listen.
When you practice the art of listening … you open a dialogue. And to do that, you need language. But you also need one thing more: courage. The courage to listen.