EDITORIAL: The art of conversation

Humans have the ability to talk and although animals are able to communicate using their own form of language, it is of no comparison to humans. Humans are able to express themselves using language to communicate even the most trivial things in their everyday lives. Humans can feel a sense of joy through words as evident in numerous examples of word play. In this case, language becomes the medium for producing joy and pleasure. In addition, language has the ability to maintain one’s status and power for those that have acquired it exclusively. In the past the Yangban (gentry) class exclusively acquired language, however, due to modernization English has become an exclusive language. Language represents power itself as it can control and be used exclusively even within the same languages. At the same time, language also plays the role of revealing and uncovering such power.

In a modern democratic society, almost all words are allowed in theory, and it seems as though everyone has the right to say what they want and this can be confirmed through numerous words that come from everywhere. Everyone voices their opinions and it has come to the point that so many of these words have become noise. Noises are broken words. People in modern society expect to communicate with each other using these words. However, it doesn’t seem easy. If so, what is the reason? A conversation should at least be an exchange of words between two different people. Of course, words can be passed along by one person as shown in monologues. In a monologue, the speaker is also the listener. Therefore, effective communication is achieved.

In contrast, if the speaker is the main agent in a conversation, the listener is the other person. The other person is someone who was born and raised in a different environment from the speaker. This person entails strangeness and difference. Thus, the existence of this difference should be acknowledged leading to a path of overcoming these differences and conflicts between the two people engaged in the conversation. For this reason, the success rate of communication is lowered in a conversation compared to a monologue. To improve the success rate, people have discovered various skills. Some of the most common ones are rhetorical and oratory skills. These skills have been used to support or justify their opinions. From this perspective, rhetorical and oratory skills have a positive effect; however, at times there may be negative effects.

For instance, it will be difficult to have a conversation when the other person is in a state of oblivion. Also, if that person is oblivious as well as stubborn, it will be impossible to continue the conversation. In this case, words that are exchanged cannot be considered to be a conversation; rather it becomes a one-sided notice. Furthermore, if that person tells lies by using brilliant verbal rhetoric to conceal them, then these rhetorical and oratory skills become that of deception. When a person full of malice uses these brilliant and inspirational rhetorical and oratory skills, in the short-run they can be used to mislead others, but they eventually lose their vitality. In contrast, you need to look at the problem which lies in front of the other person you are having the conversation with. In order to overcome a certain problem or misunderstanding, continuous dialogue in an earnest and sincere manner should be achieved. At this point, the nature of the problem once cloaked in darkness is revealed through dialogue. However, the act of uncovering things that have been concealed is also the act of creating new life. This act is what we call art.

Conversation and dialogue should not be a skill of deception, but one of alleviating the problems of communication and that of revealing various issues. Instead of forcing one’s views through embellishments, the true art of conversation starts by understanding the other person’s views and by listening to what they have to say. This is something that people living in modern society need to achieve and we can do this by examining and exploring our conversations with each other.

Translated by Julia Kim

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