I…can’t answer this? I mean, there is no one solid forever here you go answer for it because not all conversations are the same. It depends on what you want out of it.
If I’m spilling deep secrets, I want one person, entirely trusted, because I want to be HEARD. I want my experience listened to, validated, questioned. I want my inner life to be brought to the outer life and acknowledged. Maybe I want empathy. Maybe I want to know if others would see/feel the same thing in the same circumstances. Maybe I want solutions. But I want that one person’s entire attention.
If I’m sharing ideas, I want a million people! Okay, maybe not a million, but when I give a paper at a conference, I want as many people as are interested in the topic to show up and I want them not to hear my ideas, but to listen and then tell me theirs. I want them to use my paper as a springboard, and then we together, in a sense, collaborate in the world of idea making. Because my brain can only come up with so much, and your brain can only come up with so much, but if we pile our amounts together, we create something bigger and more complex and nuanced.
In less formal settings, I like small groups, dinner table sized. Enough that I can speak when I have something worth saying (not often) and that I can be quiet and listen, without feeling the pressure to be ‘on’ or entertaining, where I can focus on hearing others and just celebrate the ways we all came together.
Inner monologue, no. Sometimes I get sick of being in my head. I know these old patterns, these old voices. Oh, there’s that anxiety about money again. Oh great, here comes this trite list of things I need to do today. Oh, there’s that weepy voice whining about my shitty childhood. UGH. Boring! Those voices talk too much. In the case of in my head, fewer speakers the better. Meditation has helped so much with that for me: sit down, let them babble and ramble and freak out and just say ‘well, that’s interesting’ and let it go, and not let that voice take over. Eventually, they quiet down. Eventually, the voices in your head (which are just ego conditioning) fade–just for a second, a few seconds, but it’s enough of a glimpse of freedom to keep you going, and aware that those voices are a cage.