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The Forgotten Power of Conversation

The Forgotten Power of Conversation

Conversation is becoming a lost art, replaced by endless talk. To converse is to share ideas and learn from one another in the process. It demands listening and talking in equal degrees. Talk is one-way. All those people endlessly talking into their cellphones, the TV chat shows, the instant pundits on any topic, all of them talk without ceasing yet rarely pause to listen. We live surrounded by constant chatter that amounts to little more than fear of silence.

Go to any meeting in any organization. What will you discover? People who spend their time between talking thinking about what to say next. People eagerly seizing on someone else’s words purely as the excuse for talking themselves. Decisions made before the meeting ever takes place. No one listens. No one is open to persuasion. Attendees are briefed to take a position, regardless of what’s said after they arrive. Like politicians toeing the party line, they have open mouths and tightly shut minds.

People don’t even say what they mean when they do speak. Our organizational heroes are like John Wayne, strong and silent types, hiding themselves behind the action-man exterior. In “Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives,”

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    Theodore Zeldin uses dialogue from a John Wayne movie to make the point. When the heroine says to Wayne, “You don’t need anybody but yourself,” she could as easily be speaking to a top executive in a corporation.

    “I want a woman who needs me,” Wayne replies. It’s all about him it seems. But when the heroine wears a sexy dress to attract his attention, all he can say is, “You wear those things and I’ll arrest you.”

    “I thought you’d never say it,” she replies.

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    “Say what?”

    “That you love me.”

    “I said I’ll arrest you.”

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    “It means the same thing. You know that. You just won’t say it.”

    Action-man (and action-woman) leaders prove their superiority by aggression. They don’t need to listen, and they cannot be persuaded save by aggression greater than their own. Conversation has no place in their lives. Who needs talk when there’s action to be done? Who needs to persuade others when you can manipulate them, or coerce them, or (like political fixers the world over) use dirty tricks to discredit them?

    Conversation is personal contact, the meeting of minds in a mutual search for what life and work are about and how we should deal with both. It’s approaching others with an open mind and ready sympathy for their concerns, not just our own. When people converse, a change of opinion is always possible. What would happen if politicians and leaders began to converse, instead of shouting pre-prepared political slogans? Might there be a chance to put the needs of the nation as a whole before narrow, sectional interests?

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    Conversation is the ultimate human interest activity, at work or outside, bringing you into direct contact with people in all their complexity and vulnerability. It’s also the best remedy for the sense of alienation from society that’s the underlying cause of vandalism, crime and terrorism.

    People want most of all to be heard; to have others listen to them — really listen — and understand their needs and concerns. If you want to attract and keep good employees, if you want to retain good customers, if you just want to have a better quality life, cut all the chatter and start a conversation. It will change your world.

    Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his thoughts most days at The Coyote Within and Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the fun and satisfaction to management work.

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    Last Updated on August 12, 2019

    13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

    13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

    Mentally strong people have healthy habits. They manage their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in ways that set them up for success in life.

    Take a look at these 13 things that mentally strong people don’t do so that you too can become mentally stronger.

    1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves

    Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

    2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power

    They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.

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    3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change

    Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

    4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control

    You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

    5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

    Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.

    6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks

    They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.

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    7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past

    Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it.

    However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.

    8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over

    Mentally strong people accept responsibility for their behavior and learn from their past mistakes. As a result, they don’t keep repeating those mistakes over and over. Instead, they move on and make better decisions in the future.

    9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success

    Mentally strong people can appreciate and celebrate other people’s success in life. They don’t grow jealous or feel cheated when others surpass them. Instead, they recognize that success comes with hard work, and they are willing to work hard for their own chance at success.

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    10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure

    Mentally strong people don’t view failure as a reason to give up. Instead, they use failure as an opportunity to grow and improve. They are willing to keep trying until they get it right.

    11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time

    Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive.

    They enjoy their own company and aren’t dependent on others for companionship and entertainment all the time but instead can be happy alone.

    12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything

    Mentally strong people don’t feel entitled to things in life. They weren’t born with a mentality that others would take care of them or that the world must give them something. Instead, they look for opportunities based on their own merits.

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    13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

    Whether they are working on improving their health or getting a new business off the ground, mentally strong people don’t expect immediate results. Instead, they apply their skills and time to the best of their ability and understand that real change takes time.

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    Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

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