Last week I ordered Conversation: A History of a Declining Art by Stephen Miller from Amazon. I’d heard the author interviewed by Phillip Adams on Late Night Live and it sounded interesting. Today I read Steve Denning’s stinging review which I thoroughly enjoyed. Denning didn’t like Miller’s inability to clearly make the case for declining conversations; his arguments lacked evidence according to Denning.
Denning, presumably based on Miller’s book, makes a number of useful observations about good conversation which are worth remembering when we sit down next to our next friendly chat.
- an open-minded exploration of multiple viewpoints makes for a good conversation
- a single-minded attempt to destroy others’ ideas kills conversations
- good conversations include amusing banter
- conversation works best among equals
- conversations have been a rare phenomenon
This is a timely topic for me because in one hour I will be recording a podcast with Patrick Lambe, Nancy White, Matthew Moore and Kaye Vivian where we plan to have a series of informal conversations on knowledge management related topics. I’ll let you know how we go.
I would also say that I have noticed that people in organisation rarely seem to have (or make) the time for conversation. Most talking is done to achieve a task which must reduce the ability for people to explore new ideas, innovate and revitalise their thinking.
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: