A couple of weeks ago I read Theodore Zeldin’s book on Conversation with my curiosity piqued by the David Gurteen Knowledge Cafe. Zeldin describes conversation as a meeting of minds, of a dialogue between two people. Conversations require opening ourselves to strangers, broadening our curiosity and he highlights the importance of courage. At a recent conference that I helped organise, one of the keynotes requested the senior managers in attendance to go away and have just one courageous conversation in the next 24 hours.
Zeldin particularly values conversations which are meetings on the borderline of what I understand and what I don’t, with people who are different from myself. On the other hand, he considers conversation with yourself as full of risk – because you have to decide how much to enhance your ideas with imagination. Lucky I have a good imagination otherwise it would be a very boring conversation!
One quote leaped out at me though from page 88: “Conversation needs pauses, thoughts need time to make love”. I guess that argues against wham bam thank you ma’am type conversations and argues for the sensual and protracted conversations. It is the pauses that often allows one to collect their thoughts, encourages the introverted to come forward and deepens the thread. So is conversation then a meeting of minds like sex is a meeting of bodies? Does this accord in some way with Patrick’s inclination towards Touch KM – with perhaps just a modicum less intimacy? Or could it be that I have been simply too long away from home and my wife and that the conversation with myself is getting carried away by my imagination?
Now in speaking to a very learned gentleman (RH) on this, Zeldin’s book is just commonsense. Of course I agree! But it often serves to be reminded of that. It’s just like managing people is just commonsense but a shame that too many managers leave their commonsense at home.