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One form of conversation: the interview
Conversation for two
Three-way conversation

When talking verbal is generally communication of people with each other, respectively.


Subforms of the conversation are for example:


Even if the word conversation is derived from speaking , acoustic-verbal utterances, such as in a face-to-face conversation or a telephone conversation , are not mandatory requirements for the definition. Written exchanges via email or similar mainly text-based services that embody a visualized language can be cited as an example . Conventional correspondence , an SMS or a chat are thus written equivalents of the conversation.

For historical reasons, the original text passages to which the respondent reacts are usually not repeated or quoted in reply letters, on the grounds that the recipient knows very well what he originally noted. But this is more likely due to other reasons:

  • The statements to be quoted would have to be (time-consuming) copied again.
  • There were rather few correspondence conducted at the same time, so the memory of the individual statements was not impaired by others.

This procedure has changed due to technical feasibility, especially with electronically supported written discussions, such as B. with emails. Here it is considered to be conducive to conversation and polite to quote the previous train of thought (mostly not in full, but in relevant parts) when answering or continuing thoughts.

During the conversation there is the role of the speaker and the role of the listener, whereby the roles can be switched. The role change takes place according to internal or external conversation rules . This includes the course of the conversation. It consists of an initial phase, the middle of the conversation and the end phase. During these phases, various smaller structures of conversation alternate, such as dialogue, monologue, chat, speaking, listening and others. Everyone is involved in conducting the conversation.

Initial phase

The conversation is opened in different ways. In any case, you will first be contacted. A normal conversation (face-to-face or face-to-face conversation) can be initiated, for example, by eye contact , a telephone conversation by accepting the incoming signal, a formal conversation by an appropriate conversation organization, invitation.

In the case of formal discussions, the interviewer is determined, for example by election, the appointment of a recorder, if necessary measures that should favorably influence the atmosphere of the conversation, such as the offering of coffee or tea. There is also an agreement on a topic for discussion.

In the initial phase, the social relationships of the participants in the conversation develop or appear and the basic mood of the conversation is determined. The duration of the opening phase varies and can shrink until a brief exchange of greetings is made. The initial phase has an important function and serves to organize the basic conversation as well as to establish or build up the willingness of the interlocutors to talk.

Offering drinks relaxes the atmosphere by the fact that the person offering it (usually the host) expresses that the needs of the other person have a space here. No mistakes can be made in accepting this offer. The rejection of such an offer is considered impolite, depending on the importance of hospitality. Accepting beverages allows everyone involved to sort their thoughts and adjust to the conversation. It therefore makes sense for companies to support such rituals.

This mutual first interaction opens the conversation and thus sets the dialogue in motion.

Conversation center

The middle of the conversation serves the actual topic. It's down to business. The middle of the conversation is thematically oriented, the organization of the conversation depends on the type of conversation and the topic. It can be done by a facilitator or by informal transfer of the right to speak from one to the other. Appropriate phrases or eye contacts , pauses and the like are used for this.

This can lead to misunderstandings, for example if the speaker takes a short break and a previous listener takes the floor, or if two people start speaking at the same time. There are repair mechanisms for this. In this way, you can withdraw from your desire to talk, or the discussion leader makes the appropriate decisions in formal discussions.

In the case of heated discussions ( arguments ), conducting the conversation is sometimes problematic.

The topic can be determined in advance, for example during a job interview or sales pitch , or it can develop according to the situation. In the second case in particular, several topics can develop spontaneously and alternate.

The question of steering the topic plays an important role. A request or a question can be used to guide the topic (also an interim question).

It is important that the topic fits into the course of the conversation, otherwise there will be problems with the interlocutors and the thread of the conversation can break.

Termination phase

When the actual topics of conversation have been concluded, there is a termination phase. A termination offer is made. This can be done explicitly (request to come to an end, ringing the bell) or by informal actions, for example looking at the clock, packing up the writing utensils or the like. It is determined whether the topic has been adequately dealt with or whether there are still open questions, further discussions can be arranged, and an emotional and formal conclusion of the conversation takes place.

There are rites for this in every language and conversation situation , such as exchanging greetings and shaking hands. However, the conversation can also be continued if the termination offer is rejected.

Call control

Since several people are taking part in a conversation, it is necessary to synchronize the assumption of roles, otherwise everyone would speak at once or the interlocutors would not be able to speak. In formal discussions, for example, the agenda or the request to speak (e.g. by raising a hand), if necessary a speaking time limit, or in the case of excessive statements or statements deviating from the topic, a note from the discussion leader (see → moderator (profession) )

The basic rule is that the speaker has the right to speak until he has finished thinking. Then someone else takes the floor. Who this is can be seen from the course of the conversation and is usually determined in a simple and unproblematic manner.

In the case of smaller discussion groups, a formal design of the course of the conversation is often not necessary. The control takes place by handing over the word, sometimes also by taking it over ( speaking in between ). During the conversation there are often warning signs or signs of approval or rejection, which - at least in non-formal conversations - are not rated as "talking in between" (nodding, shaking the head, short utterances such as "yes", "hmm! ...", " Oh no! "And others).

When talking on the phone, such comments are necessary as a sign of attention in order to show the partner that the conversation channel is still open. But they are also often helpful in normal conversations and serve to maintain the social conversation relationship.

The intention of stopping speaking and handing the word over to someone else is usually signaled by the speaker. This can be done with empty phrases: “What do you say about this?”, “I'm coming to the end ...”, or the speaker can simply stop talking. But this can easily be mistaken for a short break to catch your breath or to think. If the speaker does not agree to someone else taking the call, he tries to “fix” the situation, for example with phrases like “please let me speak” or “I'm not finished yet”.

The speaker can then leave the word to him again or try to keep it.


Contributions to conversations often appear in pairs. A question awaits an answer, a compliment a reaction to the compliment, a greeting a corresponding counter- greeting , a proposal awaits acceptance or rejection. Usually the interlocutors respond adequately to such phrases. Simply ignoring them is often considered impolite. Sometimes, for example with a suggestion that the interlocutor does not want to accept directly, but cannot reject without complications, he evades or makes counter-suggestions. Such reactions are particularly common in diplomacy.

Women's talk and men's talk

A women's conversation is a conversation between a group of people of the female sex . The counterpart to the women's conversation is the men's conversation, which is a conversation between people of the male gender .

Such a conversation can be accidental as there are no people of the opposite sex present. However, it can also arise through conscious or unconscious exclusion or through discrimination against people of another gender.

See also


  • Claudia Schmölders (Ed.): The Art of Conversation. Texts on the history of European conversation theory . Munich 1985. The art of conversation as a full text.
  • Ursula Frost (Ed.): The end of the culture of conversation. On the importance of conversation for the educational process . In: Münster talks on topics of scientific pedagogy , issue 15. Münster 1999.
  • Meinolf Schumacher : Written models of premodern culture of conversation: table breeding - conversation games - little conversation books. In: Der Deutschunterricht 53 (2001), no. 6, pp. 8–15 ( digitized version ).
  • Angelika Linke, among others: Study book linguistics , Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen 2001, ISBN 3-484-31121-5 .
  • Doris Märtin : Smart Talk. Say it right . Campus, Frankfurt 2006.
  • Erving Goffman : Speech Sages. Forms of communication in social situations . Constance 2005.
  • Peter Weber: Mastering Difficult Conversations Competently: A Practical Guide for Discussions with Criticism and Bad News . Pabst, Lengerich 2006.
  • Monika Heilmann: Eight golden rules for confident conversation , March 2009, self-coaching workbook.
  • Monika Heilmann: Win-win discussions, talk calmly, appear confident, avoid conflicts , August 2012, BusinessVillage Verlag.
  • Roger Aeschbacher: Maximum innovation - through Management by Conversation textbook from the Ruegger Zurich publishing house.
  • Arnulf Deppermann: Analyze conversations. Leske + Budrich, Opladen 2001, ISBN 3-8100-3313-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Conversation  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: transcription  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikisource: Conversation  - Sources and Full Texts
  • FOLK , the research and teaching corpus Spoken German is a discussion corpus developed at IDS Mannheim, i. H. a collection of conversation recordings and associated transcriptions .

Individual evidence

  1. Martin Wagenschein : Teaching understanding. Genetic - Socratic - Exemplary , 1986, p. 80.