conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Shop Talk Creates Remarkable Moments

with 3 comments

Does God show up in shop talk?

I wondered aloud what it would look like if God showed up at work. I thought it would not look like church but instead might resemble acts of excellent service, possibly offered anonymously. I argued such service might flow from a deeper dedication than winning points with the boss. I also speculated that if God showed up, He might bring with him a sense of the larger purpose to our work.

One medical device company I worked for the CEO would routinely travel with sales reps to visit physicians. When the CEO showed up, the tenor of the conversation changed. Suddenly it was not about just product benefits and features, but it was about the surgeon’s particular need with the kinds of patients she was seeing. Or what the cardiologist was noticing about how this technology helped his patients and where there could be improvements. The conversations broadened out beyond technology, and then broadened out beyond that particular physician to all surgeons or all cardiologists or all patients with this particular pathology.

Shop talk—the conversations we have with colleagues—can be a rich source of practical help. It can also be utterly engaging. It’s the details we notice and sharing the things that work (and noting those that don’t) and the funny stories of different personalities and their ways of approaching work. Shop talk is all about what we find remarkable, what we find stimulating or workable. Or amazing. Or meaningful. But shop talk can never be created by a computer—it is always about a human response to a shared situation.

It’s Monday, that day of the week when our work can feel particularly mundane or stale. Hearing our colleague explain why our shared work helps people can be refreshing. It can help reframe today’s tasks. Sometimes it takes great courage to explain to our jaded, cynical colleagues why we continue to move forward and why this work has meaning. My favorite leaders have shop-talked their way into answering the meaning question—and today I’m grateful for their acts of revelatory courage.


Image credit: surrealmagicalism via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

November 19, 2012 at 9:31 am

3 Responses

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  1. Kirk,

    Great post! We started a men of hope blog & I was wondering if you would let me pass this on w the intent & hope that we could repost it. Giving you full credit of course. Have seen you in awhile, hope all is well.


  2. […] when talking about collaboration or community—it’s a perfect illustration of both. And with the shop talk caught on camera and in context, it is a delightful and an all-too-quick 74 […]

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