Subscribe to Elucidations:

In this episode, Myisha Cherry (UC Riverside) and I talk about talking. What makes someone good at at, and what makes someone bad at it? Click here to listen to our conversation.

We don’t always think of conversation as a skill. Often, we think of it as something that just happens automatically; I need to talk someone, and I walk over and just tell them what’s on my mind. But there’s a lot of careful work that goes into having a good conversation: you modulate the way you address the person based on your knowledge of how they are and aren’t comfortable talking, you take into account what you know about their experiences, and approach the exchange as an opportunity to learn. In this episode, Myisha Cherry runs through some of what it takes to be a good conversationalist, in the hope that being our best selves while talking to one another can facilitate difficult conversations.

One interesting argument our guest makes is that there isn’t necessarily any one protocol that works for everyone. Whenever you enter into a conversation, according to this position, you have to slightly adjust the pace, the tone, the terminology you use, and so forth to fit the type of conversation that person likes to have. There is some variation from culture to culture, but there is also variation from person to person.

The conversation is fascinating, and hopefully itself an illustration of some of our guest’s points! I hope you enjoy it.

Myisha Cherry has a new book of interviews out from Oxford University Press called Unmuted, which you can buy here.

And please subscribe to her brilliant podcast, UnMute, here.

Matt Teichman