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Banbury Cross

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Post details: Your Conversation Mode: Baseball or Soccer?

Your Conversation Mode: Baseball or Soccer?

In my lifetime I have seen talk fests galore and at some point I noticed that most conversations fall into one of the following two categories: either they are highly formal and structured, typically rendered by distinguished British ladies over a cup of tea at 5 o'clock; or they are spontaneous and unrestrained, bound only by the laws of the jungle and vigorously practiced by savages unversed in the arts of higher etiquette.

The first mode reminds me of baseball - plays have their scripted roles, the game is quite predictable, but also more prone to showcase its subtleties because nuances are always easier to spot in an ordered and regimented environment. The possession of the ball is predetermined by the rules of the game, which means that if one side is pitching the other side has no chance of taking the ball away from them. Much like when Lady Macbeth speaks, no one else will dare jump into her oratory.

The second mode is more like soccer - a freely flowing action, configurations of players continuously changing with no telling what's going to happen next. The ball possession is up for grabs and can switch at any given moment. People engaged in this mode of conversation can interrupt each other at will, and they often do, wrestling the floor from each other like a bunch of tiger cubs playing with one spool of wool.

Which mode of conversation is preferable is a matter of taste. The baseball-mode is more polite and suitable for strangers, but I almost always prefer the soccer-mode for it better conveys the passion for the subject. It is also very adaptive and when you want the discussion to reach a point, no idle talk can withstand its brutal evolutionary razor. When someone starts rambling, the rest of the pack will butt in and rescue the original direction.

But then again, such mode can easily slip into a brawl, and there are definitely times in life when a little structure goes a long way to keeping things in check. Times when you want a dance instead of a melee.

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