conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

“Thou Art a Cad, Sir.”

with 4 comments

May You Have Interesting Colleagues

This is the time of year when people refer to that old Irish blessing (about the road rising up and so on). But here—stuck in the middle of the work week—I want to offer you a more contextual blessing: the people around you.

Well, maybe not everyone.

But often there is someone you come in contact with who is, well, delightful. Their sense of humor, the wacko things they say over the cubicle wall, the inappropriate things they do in department meetings. The fact that they will trim your hair in the back room when the director is out of the office or dump Vaseline in the bigshot’s duffle bag or instigate rebellion at the slightest provocation. [Am I sounding like a bad employee?]


In fact, it is typically the people around (the fun and interesting ones, anyway) who make work enjoyable.

Martin Buber made a point of differentiating between how we treat objects (“I-it”) versus the way we treat people (“I-thou”). One of his points was that we should never treat people as objects: ordering them about as if they had no will of their own. Instead we should engage with each other. That’s what humans do.

Of course that very object-treatment is one of the primary sins in many of our corporations, where people become known as “human capital.” Churches are not so different when they refer to congregants as “giving units.” Hey—we even take cues from our cultural bosses and call ourselves “consumers.” Our language makes no attempt to mask this object-laden perspective.

But no so with interesting colleagues, because of our connection with them. Because of conversations you’ve had with them (some even soul-baring), because you’ve talked shop and lamented death and rejoiced in birth together, you get to know each other as fully-human. Trust and connection fit in here. And the ability to say anything.

The ability to say anything and still be heard and respected, that is the fullness of connection with another Thou.

May the “Thous” rise up to meet you today and this week.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

4 Responses

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  1. Huge Martin Buber fan! People just don’t reference Martin Buber enough anymore. The mere mention of his name helped me stay awake during more than a few long evenings in grad school.

    Martin Buber…

    Bet you wish I’d have something intelligent to contribute once in a while 🙂


    March 18, 2015 at 9:41 am

    • I’m always glad when you show up. When will you start posting again?


      March 18, 2015 at 9:42 am

      • I lost my nerve. I was feeling like a Jeremiah. What I really want to write about would not be received well. In fact, I question my credentials to even write about what I want to write about.

        So, I’m trying something new – keeping my opinions to myself.


        March 18, 2015 at 10:19 am

      • Many writers would say that is the precise indicator that you should be writing. How about writing under a different name? Channel the passion! We need to hear what you have to say.


        March 18, 2015 at 10:25 am

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