Real Conversations

The Bhagavad-Gita is not just a theological classic but a practical guidebook. The dialogue actually reveals the principles of powerful conversation, an art that’s fast disappearing. Look around and observe people talking – often, they are disconnected, disinterested and disengaged, and even when they manage to draw each other in, nothing valuable or productive is really generated from all the natter. Knowing how to have a good conversation is an indispensable life skill.

Consider the following points and draw from experiences where you have followed or neglected these principles:

Attention – Despite the fever-pitch intensity of the battlefield, Arjuna managed to shut everything out and give his undivided attention to Krishna. Attention, they say, is the rarest and purest form of generosity. It pays to be fully present in any dialogue, since your counterpart will wholeheartedly work overtime to reciprocate with your investment.

Openness – Arjuna was open to suggestion. “I am a student,” he said, “please offer feedback and guide me.” That’s progressive. If you enter a conversation fixated on what you’ll say and what you want to hear, you paralyse the process of discovery. Let the person express their heart, and be ready to wholeheartedly receive. Temporarily suspend your personal opinion and let your perspective be challenged.

Spontaneity – Arjuna was baffled and bewildered, looking for answers but lacking clarity and structure. Krishna patiently responded to his every inquiry, taking the hour-long conversation through twists and turns, and full circle! Good conversations go with the flow. Often times it’s more valuable to ditch the planned route in your head, and instead talk about what is lingering deep within. Then we get to the heart of the issue.

Honesty – Arjuna lays all the cards on the table. He has doubts, questions, disagreements and issues, and he eventually reveals it all. In response to his honesty, Krishna offers gem-like insights. When you are real with people, they’ll be real with you, and then it gets ‘real interesting.’ Superficiality is the breeding ground of the most uninteresting interactions.

Humility – Hearing Arjuna’s request for guidance, Krishna is reluctant. Even after Krishna offers His flawless advice, He states this is merely “His opinion” and encourages Arjuna to “do as he wishes to do.” Krishna’s humility is revealing. Conversations are not a platform for self-promotion or proving ourselves; it’s not about winning or defeating. In a conversation, don’t simply listen so you can reply, but listen to genuinely understand.

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