Essay · Rudimentary Philosophy

Askers and Tellers

A thought on verbal conversation.

It is a noticeable aspect in conversation that when one party offers a piece of information the other party will either respond with an inquisition about said tidbit of personal data or reply with tangential information from their own experience. Reflection on exchanges where one type of response outweighs the other leads one to ponder whether or not inconclusive yet telling information can be teased out about each party.

Does the one who naturally replies with a probing followup query, or the Asker, do so to further investigate the topic their co-converser has raised or is it a method of deflection, swatting the spotlight from what they fear to be the inevitable moment they will have to expose a piece of their own? Does a genuine wonder to know more about the other motivate these questions or is it the dread they feel when asked of themselves they are trying to avoid? Does the Asker only listen for the detail that was left out, so when it is their turn they might point out the blank spot on the canvass of the other’s explanation, handing them the brush to fill out what they had left unsaid? Perhaps the Asker asks to show the asked they want to be asked as such when the time comes that they reveal themselves, providing a template in their curiosity. Perhaps the Asker asks in automatic acuity as to accentuate the possibility they might make it out of the conversation without telling anything of themselves to the Teller.       

Does the one who tells and tells and tells, the aptly titled Teller, build toward anything besides a clinical in self-absorption? Are they prompted to see in conversation only cues to reveal information from which they have experienced? Do they listen in wait only for a chance to be heard? Do they believe each detail is necessary or that their experience is of higher import or that within their rambling banter another step is taken toward being understood or accepted or related to? Perhaps the Teller tells so they will be told a similar story by the one whose ears their own has fallen. Perhaps the notion of silence frightens the Teller into an overexertion of self and pieces of their life both trivial and monumental burst from the cloudy corners of their mind and rain into the air of dialogue.

Askers tell.

Tellers ask.

Wherever on the spectrum you fall, be sure to listen.

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