conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

From “You Suck” to “Say More”

with 4 comments

Advance Your Conversations by Providing Wee Bits of Pivot


My client has a big agenda for her healthcare organization: she wants her colleagues to reconsider how they purchase their millions of dollars of medical equipment every year. As we talked we realized there are a set of steps her colleagues take to see things differently. Every conversation can be a step, bringing in information, yes, but more importantly, bringing in emotional connection, along with wee bits of pivot. She needed to provide the right information at the right time at the proper emotional setting.

That’s because we use rational thought to change our minds. But changing our minds is also an emotional activity. Reason and emotion together help us see and do things differently.

If you are convinced you are right about something—and most of us are dogmatic by default on dozens of topics—then you state your opinion flat out and your conversation partner is forced into a binary response:

  • “Yes—I agree. You and I, we are brothers.” or,
  • “No. You suck and now I hate you forever.”

But if we dial dogmatic back a notch and consider that another opinion may help us, we are poised to deliver words with wiggle, words that help us move forward in a conversation. What we say next allows us to bring more information along with our own emotional force. And even if we don’t persuade someone of our opinion, we’ve had a conversation where we’ve learned something.

And that is significant.

We need a lot of wee bits of pivot just now. Conversations about race, about policing, about religion, about politics—all of these are ripe areas for letting go of the dogmatism that leads to binary thinking.

Can’t we all just have better conversations?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

December 2, 2015 at 9:21 am

4 Responses

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  1. I think first we have to actually interact regularly with people who are different from us, and who may have different views. I don’t think that happens that much these days. If you know someone as a whole person, you are more likely to be open to listening even if you disagree. (K)


    December 3, 2015 at 7:35 am

    • Super point, Kerfe. I wonder how we can make a priority of finding people very unlike us to talk with? Sound like something unlikely to happen, doesn’t it?


      December 3, 2015 at 7:52 am

      • It does. I feel people more and more only want to surround themselves with others just like they are. But being the Other every once in awhile does give you perspective you wouldn’t have otherwise. I don’t know how to make it happen though…


        December 3, 2015 at 8:03 am

      • I agree. And even as I type I am well aware of my own lack of reaching across divides. That needs to change.


        December 3, 2015 at 8:04 am

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