conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

It’s Better to Have the Conversation Than Not

with 3 comments

Assumptions are a cul-de-sac. Admissions, an autobahn.11012013-tumblr_mvkx19SekM1qbcporo1_1280

A fast-moving project I’m on pits the changing need of the client with the frantic response of the agency. I’m writing copy and providing strategic direction for a moving target, which has (literally) kept me up nights.

One truth that has proven itself to me several times over the past few weeks is that it is simply better to have a conversation than to not. That may seem obvious to you. But it’s taken me years to come to understand this. I’m too easily put off by the gruff manner or the fly-off-the-handle personality. It’s too tempting to put my head down and just do the work. But the way forward—especially when the task and deliverables are murky—is to talk together about what we understand. Naturally it is embarrassing to admit I know only this much (thumb and forefinger stretched) when I imagine those who wrote the scope of work know this much (from here to the wall, say).

But admit I must.

It is the only way forward. And sometimes it is the only way to get to the place where you can put your head down and do the work. Admitting what I know is also the best way forward: anything I can do to get the team on the same page, whether that means showing my rough draft copy or my quick dumb sketch of what I think the interactive designer just said. And by admitting what I know, others can feel free to admit what they know. That’s usually when I come to find out someone heading up the whole thing is just as baffled. But when we talk openly about what we know and especially what we don’t, a measured response can emerge and we assemble our next steps. At least until the next client meeting.

There is something of an art to getting people on the same page. Some personalities fall into this easier than others. Getting open discussion is aided by vulnerability: the admission. The confession. I suppose the question is: how badly do you want to move forward?

See also Seth Godin’s commentary about fearing the fear vs. feeling the fear. It may give you courage for your task.


Image Credit: Mark Brooks via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

November 1, 2013 at 8:12 am

3 Responses

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  1. Excellent! And, this works so well with interpersonal relationships as well 🙂 It’s dangerous to try and move forward based only on assumptions. I still hate admitting I don’t know what I’m doing though.


    November 1, 2013 at 9:12 am

    • Maybe especially with interpersonal relationships. Then again, look where our assumptions have landed us over the years. Thanks for reading.


      November 1, 2013 at 9:28 am

  2. […] couple years ago I wrote that it is better to have the conversation than not. More and more I think that is true. When we bring up a topic with a friend or family member or […]

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