conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Lower Your Weapons of Mass Reduction (Dummy’s Guide to Conversation #15)

with 4 comments

Put down your straw man. Back away slowly.

tumblr_mjmmu8wwkr1qbcporo1_1280-03142013To reduce someone else’s contribution to “just this” or “just that”—some single point—is usually more about getting ready to dismiss the point than it is actually hearing the person out. Reducing the complex to the simple is something our media is very eager to do, and something we Americans dearly desire. But over and again we do violence to our understanding, and more importantly, we do violence to our relationships with others when we force the complex into a box that we can understand.

Into a box we can easily shut.

We short-circuit relationship when we reduce this to that. It is a way of avoiding people and ideas that are different. It is a way of forcing people to be the same as us, even when they are quite different. And often we gather whatever personal power or social capital to shut out the dissenting voice. It is a sort of knee-jerk, instinctual reaction.

Listening takes courage and lots of it, just like a good conversation.


Image credit: June Kim via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

March 14, 2013 at 8:29 am

4 Responses

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  1. Well-said:)


    March 14, 2013 at 9:37 am

  2. […] is always dangerous to reduce this to that, so without reducing, I’ll simply point to this small story and say I like how it […]

  3. […] comes to mind, with his intense working-over of a text so as to master it. This is the opposite of reducing this to that. And I’m lucky enough to have people in my life who listen carefully without reducing. I’m […]

  4. […] Torah. Some argue that McLaren’s is a naïve reading of Plato, which may be accurate: whenever we reduce this to that, we lose nuance and insert our own […]

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