Conversation is generally considered to be a good thing - but essential? Well, in many cases, yes. When you are about to make a major decision in your life, there are almost always several conversations that should occur in order to avoid disappointment or worse.
If you're buying a house in a new neighborhood, conversations might include talking to a few neighbors about the culture of the neighborhood, talking to local police, discussing with contractors what will be involved in implementing improvements or changes you'll want to make, meeting with teachers at schools your children might attend, visiting local houses of worship, and learning about community activities.
If you're considering taking a new job, it's always helpful to have conversations with others who've worked for the person you would report to. If possible, speak with potential colleagues, subordinates, superiors, and people who have previously worked for or with the company. It's especially great if you can talk to the present occupant of the position you're considering, but sometimes circumstances won't allow that. Either way, be sure to find out why the vacancy has occurred. Try to learn more then what's available on a company website or in an annual report. Are the company's customers generally happy with them? Do they have good relationships in the community where they're located?
Maybe you or your parents are considering a retirement community. Again, there are so many conversations that are important that go beyond the obvious financial ones. What kind of facilities do they have if/when health problems arise? Is there a continuity of care, or would it necessitate going to another facility? Can you keep your own physician, or are you required to use a resident physician and be treated only at a particular medical facility or hospital? Are there activities appropriate to all levels of ability? What do other residents have to say about the food? (This is one of the most common complaints). What are the levels of certification or licensure of care givers? (This is where some facilities cut corners to save money). Make sure you see a copy of the latest state inspection, and how deficiencies are addressed.
A general rule of thumb is to ask open-ended questions - i.e. those that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." Such questions usually start with words like "who," "what," "how," "when," where," or "why." These words can be catalysts for essential conversations - conversations that help you do your "due diligence" when making important decisions.