conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Should You Make Your Boss Cry?

with 3 comments

Just draw me a picture

In a conversation yesterday my new friend self-identified as one who enjoys the “messy work” of helping groups get on the same page. To that I say: may her tribe grow. Because that is messy work indeed—fraught with bruised egos, sullen colleagues and cross-purposed tasks.

I maintain there is a fair amount of artistry involved in helping a group begin to move forward. Those who help others catch a vision for a project or cause have a knack for painting pictures. These pictures help team-mates understand just what is at stake. Those pictures may be dumb sketches or verbal images. The word “picture” here is important because an image conveys emotive content often missing with words alone. Without the emotive content of a picture, we are back to just using our intellect. And intellect only carries us so far. We can know the reasons behind a purpose, walk through spreadsheets and examine data without ever getting our emotive selves involved.


For many of us, real meaning has an emotional nexus. Pushing forward together springs quite naturally from that place where reason and care have linked arms.

The picture my new friend painted drew people from different business units in her organization—each armed with very different purposes and possibly their own rhetorical axes to grind—into a shared objective. The painting of the picture and telling of the story helped gradually align those cross-purposes.

What pictures are you sculpting for those around you today?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

June 24, 2014 at 9:35 am

3 Responses

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  1. A fun read Kirk. Nice getting to know you and your work.


    June 30, 2014 at 10:22 am

  2. […] many of us, it is difficult to get that sense of getting stuff done with people. Conversation is a messy business that seems to typically lead into a wilderness of tangents and false starts rather than to a place […]

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