Can We Save This Conversation?

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Have the Conversation

The events of this past week and my ongoing focus and interest in conversation and communication converged in a big way. Can’t ignore this one….not that I’d want to. The challenge and opportunity are too big.

The direction that America takes impacts us all as citizens and as business people. No one enjoys uncertainty, but it seems that uncertainty can provide an opening for conversation. Without going into details and the innumerable permutations that this provides, it is safe to say that, despite anyone’s expectations, things will likely turn out differently than any of us suppose at this time. Establishing and building upon conversations, we can begin to mend the trust so horribly lost over the past months and years.

The day after the US election I got to experience an election of a different sort. I am honored to report that I and 5 more of my colleagues have been elected to the Board of Directors of our local Chamber of Commerce. In this context, the first question that came to mind was “What does the national election mean for the business climate in our area?” One of the terrific things I’ve noted about the area in which I live is the ongoing, strong focus on the community. I’ve seen what I’ve come to call the Venn Diagram of Local Involvement. How this manifests itself is that I see many of the same people involved in numerous business, community and non-profit organizations. Not ALL the same people in every one, but of the community that I come in contact with, I see many of them participating and leading. These folks really CARE about each other, and, not only is that good for the community, but it’s good for business too.

One of the components of these directions and degrees of engagement is the number, depth and color of conversations taking place. These conversations in various contexts allow us to see each other in the varying lights that the contexts, organizations and types of engagements (social events, business meetings, “drive-by” chats at the coffee shop, etc.). We deepen the conversation, “listen-to-understand” (especially as we have joint stakes in the success of our communities), and build the kinds of relationships that not only allow us to meet the goals of all these kinds of organizations, but make us each much more likely to do business with each other AND refer others to them.

That’s good for business, right?

I’ve talked with a lot of folks this week about bridging the divide with The Other. Apparently, if the early stats are right, roughly half the country isn’t really paying attention to the other half.


The tenor of conversation and communication has broken down, but we can build it again by looking at commonalities and the little things. I have 5 cats, for example, and inviting others to conversation about their pets establishes a spot of joint interest and feeling. On the far end there is the lofty discussion on how each of us truly wants America to succeed as a country and a society. How we define that and how we get there become topics of discussion, but that’s good, right?

“Listen-to-understand” not “listen-to-reply.” We are each thinking humans, with hopes, fears, expectations, beliefs, and bills to pay.

What say we work together on this 240+ year-old project that is America? Could be pretty cool….


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