conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

“Good to Know” and a Failure to Communicate (DGtC#23)

with 3 comments

I’ve said too much already.

If you hear this, you’ve said too much. You’ve said more than someone wanted to hear. “Good to know” is a polite way for your listener to indicate, “Please. Shut it.”

Why do we say too much?


Maybe we are excited about a topic. People will often have mercy with this motive. Sometimes the excitement rubs off. Our favorite professors and speakers demonstrated their enthusiasm for a topic by going on. And on.

Maybe it is a nervous tic that flows from fear of awkward silence.

Maybe we are hiding our tracks, like the alcoholic filling up verbal space to avoid the obvious question. Maybe our rush of words is like throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, to throw our interrogators off our track.

Maybe we’re signaling dominance. Stringing together buzzwords at a rapid pace is a time-honored tactic in corporate meetings where you have no clue how to respond. The tactic usually ends in promotion because higher-ups read “kindred spirit” in your fast mumbling. Maybe our club or church or group listens for key words to show who is in and who is out, so our rush of words is a frantic attempt to show we are in.

“Good to know” is a proper, dismissive response to much of the advertising done to us: superfluous, out of step with regular life and an obvious pitch for our pocketbook.

But when we hear “Good to know,” it may be worth stepping back and getting momentarily meta, and thinking, “Oops. I might have misjudged this person’s interest. How can I get back to connection?”

Connection is the place to be. Connection gets along well with enthusiasm and does not mind probing into track-hiding. But connection does not abide dominance.



See also: How be a verbal philanthropist (#14)



Image credit: Kirk Livingston

3 Responses

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  1. I really approve this observation – astute.

    Phyllis Livingston

    July 11, 2014 at 10:12 am

  2. […] “Good to know” and a failure to communicate (#23) […]

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