How do good conversations work? Philosophy has something to say

Stephanie Ross in Psyche:

Consider the many different purposes that can be served by conversation. Of course, we speak with others – and to ourselves! – to impart information. But we also exchange words to ask questions, forge connections, vent emotions, change attitudes, gain status, urge action, share stories, pass the time, advise, amuse, comfort, challenge, and much, much more. Examining what makes conversation work, and looking at how philosophers have thought about conversation, opens a window on to how language functions and how we function with language. So it is well to ask: what makes someone a good conversant? What makes conversation work?

British philosophers from the 18th century, who were fixated on impressions and ideas, would have taken successful conversations to be those that moved the relevant cluster of ideas from one conversant’s head to another’s. This idea, though tempting, turns out to be inadequate.

More here.