• We are the other

    We are the other

    We each live our lives looking out from behind our own eyes. To each of our conversation partners though, we are an unknown. We are like everyone else they have ever encountered. We are the Other Person. Recognizing our status as a full-time Other Person could certainly help us be more humble and more aware…

  • Cadence of conversation

    Cadence of conversation

    We can only listen to one person at a time. That means comprehension will be harder for any listeners than it is for the participants in a conversation. I’d like you to consider manipulating cadence to create conversations that are easier to understand. If you and I are conversing, I have only to listen to…

  • You can hear non-verbal communication

    You can hear non-verbal communication

    Non-verbal communication is not lost with audio-only podcasts. There are subtle clues such as gestures with the head and arms, tension in the body, and variations in breathing which listeners are aware of subconsciously. These clues color the listener’s impressions. Keep in mind that your expectations about people are communicated to them nonverbally. It has…

  • Listening beyond the conversation

    Listening beyond the conversation

    If I want to improve, then there is no substitute for objective feedback, and for that I need a recording. It’s critical to listen to conversations with an ear towards improving. After a long conversation, stop and try to remember what you have just discussed. Don’t be surprised if many things, sometimes even everything you…

  • Tension

    Tension

    Some amount of tension is necessary in a conversation. I’ve seen conversations between close partners flop, with no spark. I’ve also seen sexual tension drive spectacular conversations. The burning question I have is: Can we successfully manufacture good tension? When done well, both giving and taking create what psychologists call affordances: features of the environment…

  • Don’t be a pole vaulter

    Don’t be a pole vaulter

    It’s never great to take a long, run-up to a question. In conversations it’s important to both share your thoughts and ideas, and to ask questions. Balancing sharing versus questioning leads to art, but trying to do those two things at the same time leads to confusion. If you’re a pole vaulter, you need a…

  • Being a listener

    Being a listener

    It feels different to be a true listener. You fall into a different brain state—calmer, because you have no stray thoughts blooming in your head—but intensely alert to what the other person is saying. You lose track of time because you are actively following the point the other person has brought up, trying to comprehend…

  • Creating conversation together

    Creating conversation together

    When you’re in a job interview, a podcast interview, a sales call, a meeting… if we take the approach that this is a test and there’s a right answer, we’re not actually engaging and moving things forward. ~ Seth Godin, from https://seths.blog/2018/08/ignore-the-questions/ In a conversation, if a guest slips into this-is-a-test mode, things get awkward.…

  • The miracle question

    The miracle question

    Imagine that you wake up tomorrow, and something miraculous has happened. I’m not going to ask you to explain the miracle. Instead, can you tell me about the world you’ve imagined that you want to wake up in tomorrow? I call that the miracle question. When I talk about that question, people think I call…

  • Should we ask about the past?

    Should we ask about the past?

    Should we ask about the past? Ask directly about the past if you’re interested in learning about a specific time—a particular point in history like the 1960s, or the viewpoints of people of a certain age like 20-something—because the “when” is a critical feature of what you are interested exploring through your question. There are…