conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

“You Disappoint Me” & Other Nonstarters (DGtC#30)

with 4 comments

Don’t Make Everything a Crisis Communication

Regular old talk has a way of lining things up. Steady, routine conversation between spouses, friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues can have a gentle, restorative quality.

Does that sound like an overpromise—especially given the mundane nature of so much of our talk?

Regular talk helps grow people along similar lines

Regular talk helps grow people along similar lines

It’s true in this way: like keeping roads open for traffic. We depend on open streets to drive to the grocer or to pick up our returning student from the airport. And sometimes we use those roads to race our pregnant wife to the birthing center.

Hard conversations are hard because of some urgency. Something needs to be said right now or else bad things will happen. Often we put on our formal language when we intend to communicate some crisis point:

  • “I’m disappointed in…X” is a way corporate managers temper the screaming in their skulls.
  • “We need to talk….” Is the time-honored way spouses bring up all sorts of unpleasantness.

But if those conversational roads have been open for traffic for some time, and relationships have been established, sometimes those formal words need never make an appearance. Talking about things can be handled on the fly, in normal conversation, in small bits. That’s because trust builds with the word traffic. And those conversational roads can carry quite a lot of weight.

Talking is a wonder.

Who would have guessed?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

4 Responses

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  1. After reading, I think this – it’s making me think more. : ) Worth meditating on … thanks

    Sand Salt Moon

    July 27, 2015 at 9:30 am

  2. …your word ‘traffic’ brings to mind how often deep and meaningful conversations happen in the front seat during road trips, partly because the conversation is directed outwards at a window, not eye-to-eye, and there is distraction to facilitate flow. The same is (often) true when playing cards, or watching a less-than-high-powered game of baseball side-by-side in the stands. There is something about having to sit across from someone which immediately lends a sense of directness and signals (sometimes) a hierarchy. In seminary we were taught to never sit at a desk, but come and sit beside him/her/them–and in my retirement I always appreciate it when doctors or professionals do so with me, as it signals ‘equal with’ and not ‘me,you’. Thank you for these thought-provoking and thoughtful posts, Kirk.


    July 28, 2015 at 11:46 am

    • Lance, I appreciate you stopping by and commenting. I’ve had some of the best conversations on those long trips cross-country. All sorts of stuff comes up that would never have come up otherwise. I really like your notion of sitting side by side.


      July 28, 2015 at 12:10 pm

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