• Common ground

    Common ground

    Revealing questions to find common ground If we start from understanding, and move together towards a common purpose, we’ll soon find common ground. Mostly what I am seeking, in a good conversation, is understanding. Both understanding the other, and to be understood myself. Only with mutual understanding can we ever find common purpose. I believe…

  • Upward spiral

    Upward spiral

    The positive feedback of seeking the interesting I’m sometimes asked how to cultivate curiosity to improve one’s conversations. There is a positive feedback loop that can arise when we notice we are interested. We are drawn to return to that place or to that situation. Unfortunately, we quickly tire of places and situations. To thrive,…

  • Holes

    Holes

    Getting a handle on the unknown We cannot tackle the unknown by simply tumbling into the void. Questions are knowledge-shaped holes. Having such a shape provides anticipation for learning. Do we want the first answer for every question? Do we really want just whatever happens to be the first thing we discover that fits? There’s…

  • Attention is kindness

    Attention is kindness

    Listening is a gift of our attention In the end, we have a gift we can share, and keeping it to ourselves preserves us nothing. Attention is as precious as our irreplaceable time. Giving our attention to someone is an opportunity to feel kindness for another person. What do we do? How do we lean…

  • Spaciousness

    Spaciousness

    Creating space by holding on to questions Flow state is often spoken of as a goal for any mastery practice. In such a state, there’s a feeling of spaciousness, and room for creativity to blossom. We’re waiting. We’re waiting for the next idea. We’re not grasping at the first idea which comes to mind. Effective…

  • Humanizing and fun

    Humanizing and fun

    Where can you be more, “Yes, and…”? We feel such conversations “went well” and we’re glad for the humanizing experience. Good improv requires considerable effort. The act of “yes, and…” requires nimble thinking, an assumption of positive intent, and the leaning-in posture of engagement. Good-will is absolutely necessary for improv to work well. And it’s…

  • Adversity and challenge

    Adversity and challenge

    Exploring the fine line between adversity and challenge can transform the nature of our conversations. This article is based on an episode from the Open + Curious podcast. To listen, please read more about how to purchase the podcast episodes. In the dialogue between Craig Constantine and Jesse Danger, the conversation kicks off with a…

  • Stop asking sense

    Stop asking sense

    Weird questions point to what’s interesting If what we seek is an exchange of ideas, then weird questions are better than clear questions. A great conversation isn’t us taking a test, with our conversation partner grading our thinking. We’re not trying to show our work. We shouldn’t be seeking affirmation. Asking weird questions of our…

  • Reverberations

    Reverberations

    Could you begin your next conversation from an unusual notion? We could sit back and hope that a conversation moves into the new, and surprises us with those reverberations Hillman mentions. Hoping isn’t good enough. All good conversation has some element of surprise because it’s interesting when we discover something new; it doesn’t matter whether…

  • Adversarial conversations

    Adversarial conversations

    When the ground shifts beneath us during a conversation What happens when someone’s intentions shift during the conversation itself? What happens if we realize that we’ve misread other’s intentions? In any conversation, our intention matters. The quality of our conversations depends on our intentions—whether or not we state them explicitly—and on whether our intentions are…