conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

The “Aha” Outta Nowhere

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ListenTalk: Conversation is an Engine [One Page Summary of the Book]

Every once in a while you have a conversation that makes you say “Aha!”

I have those conversations too.


These are the conversations you did not see coming: The offhand comment from the guy in the next cubicle stuck in your brain. You turned it over and over and an hour later the phrase surprised you by unlocking some long-term vexation. The funny thing about these conversations is how they pop up at the most unexpected times—even from clear strangers—and how they can go on to solve pretty big problems. Even funnier: The person we are talking with can be entirely unaware of the importance of the thing they just said.

ListenTalk: Conversation is an Engine is all about where those “Aha” conversations come from and how to have more of them. In ListenTalk we grab conversation and hold it to the light and look at it from a few different angles. We look at what happens when we try to persuade each other of something (which we do constantly) and what happens when we listen deeply. In fact, three smart thinkers offer a refreshing take on what it means to really listen. These three show how the practice of listening gives back far more than it consumes. ListenTalk asks about what happens when our words get launched into a conversation. The answer is another surprise, because words tumble out more often as invitations than commands (even commands are really invitations because of how words bump against human agency). Words have the power to make permanent solid bonds in our physical world. They also have great destructive power.

ListenTalk spins a few ancient stories about how words worked when God talked with people and people talked with God. These old stories begin to make clear just how much is at stake in our ordinary conversations, not just for us but for generations to come. These old stories also hint at deep thick ways of forming insoluble communities that can withstand lots of pressure and still remain collaborative while becoming ever more hopeful. ListenTalk finally links ordinary conversation with the satisfying sorts of conversations humans were meant to have with God—and offers those conversations as a path forward.

[This is a draft summary of my book, which I’ll be shopping around to a few publishers shortly. Comments? Questions? Issues? Angry retorts?]


Image credit: imgur

Written by kirkistan

January 9, 2014 at 9:11 am

6 Responses

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  1. Another writer friend of mine said she got whole book ideas from overheard conversations. Or, at least an interesting idea that would show up in her writing eventually. I would be interested in reading your book. Keep us posted.

    mary linse

    January 9, 2014 at 1:17 pm

  2. Am curious to see some excerpts of the book– will you be posting these?


    January 12, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    • Megan–thanks for stopping by and thanks for your question. I want to promote the book but I don’t want to make the blog about the book. Let me think about that. Again: thanks for asking!


      January 12, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      • Megan, your question stimulated me to think through a few different ideas about how to move forward. I will seek to publish excerpts, but probably not on this blog. I’m trying to expand the reach of the book, so I’m looking for magazines and other kindred bloggy places to submit a chapter. I did post chapter synopses here:


        January 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

  3. […] out how the notion of ListenTalk applies to the different audiences I work with as a copywriter. ListenTalk: Conversation is an Engine is built on a theological basis and is first a meditation on a new (or—I maintain—a very old) […]

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