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Food for Inspiration (on the Art of Conversation)

December 22, 2010

Some of the most inspiring or thought-provoking articles I’ve read over the past week, have had to do with the ways we communicate and how well we are understood. Unfortunately, real dialogue is often missing in action these days.

One of my heroes, the poet and writer John O’Donohue asks,

“When is the last time that you had a great conversation, a conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues… in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew, that brought the two of you on to a different plane… a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks after wards? I’ve had some of them recently, and it’s just absolutely amazing, they are food and drink for the soul, you know?”

I can honestly say that I have had these kinds of conversations with close and trusted friends and they are food for the soul. But do they have to be so rare?

On my page, The Lost Art of Conversation, I outline the following steps as necessary to prepare the ground for good conversation. They are:

  • Slow down. Stay open to opportunities for good conversation.
  • Listen. With your eyes, ears, mind, attention, and especially heart.
  • Have courage to share your deepest self.
  • Be open. Everyone and everything has something to teach us.
  • Don’t judge. Everyone is going through something.

If you’re interested in this subject too, here are the articles I mentioned previously (found mostly through Twitter).  The first two are quite short, the last a little more meaty. All are excellent.

You Will Be Misunderstood – Seth Godin

On the importance of clarifying what you say, and understanding others’ paradigms.

In the Tokyo Subway – Paulo Coelho

How to understand and handle aggression.

The Spirit of Authentic Dialogue – Dr. Alex Pattakos for Fast Company

Here is an excerpt, part of which I tweeted this week. A very thoughtful look at dialogue.

“You can never enter into a relationship with others if you believe that you have a monopoly on truth. True dialogue will only occur if the participating stakeholders are willing to enter the spiritual realm of the logos and “converse,” if you will, on this deeper level. Cognitive, so-called “knowledge-based,” interactions are not sufficient for authentic dialogue to occur. One must be open and willing to entertain a diversity of thought and discover a common ground by going to a higher ground.”

Wishing you great conversations this holiday season.

Related Books
Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future by Margaret Wheatley
Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue

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