Monday, March 28, 2011

Talking To vs. Talking With

I make a distinction between talking to someone and talking with them.  In common language, they're interchangeable, but they do mean different things, and I find it worth the distinction.

Talking to somebody means that you are speaking and the other person is listening.  When you talk to somebody, the communication only goes in one direction.

Talking with somebody means that sometimes you are talking to somebody, and sometimes the other person is talking to you.  Communication goes in multiple directions.

It is the difference between a lecture and a conversation.

I am not putting a value on talking to or talking with people; I am merely making a distinction.  There are times when a lecture is of benefit.  Right now, I am talking to you.  You have no option but to read through my words and receive my thoughts as I have chosen to present them.  If you want to hear my collected thoughts as a whole, or if you really just don't know where to even start asking questions or providing input, a lecture could be the best thing for you.

If, after reading this post, you decide to leave a comment, and I reply, you are talking with me, and I you.  When you do have something to say, whether it be a question to get more information, or sharing a story, which would provide more information, a conversation can be very satisfying and rewarding.  It acts as a bonding experience between people.

The main reason I make this distinction is that I know of plenty of people who do not talk with me.  It seems like they are having a conversation, but I never actually get a chance to talk back.  It made me realize that there is a big difference, and most people don't see it.

When your characters speak, are they talking to or talking with others?  When you write, which one are you doing?

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