"The famed therapist M. Scott Peck wrote that true listening requires a setting aside of self. 'Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will feel less and less vulnerable and more and more inclined to open up the inner recess of his or her mind to the listener.'

"This setting aside of the self – and all of the opinions, causes, beliefs, and biases that come with it – is one of the cornerstones of great conversation.

"One of the best lessons I've learned in nearly twenty years as a journalist is that everyone has something to teach me. If you can find it within yourself to stop using conversations as a way to convince people that you're right, you will be stunned at what you've been missing. A flood of information will rush in to fill the vacancy left behind by your ego. You might be overwhelmed with knowledge, perspective, insight, and experience. You'll hear stories you had refused to hear because you were too busy stating and restating your case. If you enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn, you will never be disappointed.

"If you want to articulate your opinion, write a blog. If you want to have a conversation, set your opinions aside, at least temporarily. You might find you never want to return to them. You may find you've evolved beyond them."