I want to begin by making a confession … I can’t stand small talk!
I wish we lived in a world where small talk was forbidden. Nothing comes of it and all of it is usually meaningless and meaningless conversation get us no where. In my line of work, small talk gets me nowhere. In order to be successful, I need to allow time and space for meaningful conversations to take place and that’s the reason I’m so passionate about what a friend of mine calls “caffeinated conversation.”
That’s also why I’m a big fan what people in radio call the “two-way” or the “long form” interview. In fact, I like that style of interview so much that I modeled my entire podcast on this format.
There are a least four reasons most of us need to make time for “long-form” conversations in our lives.
1. It gives you the chance to go deeper and wider. When we give ourselves the time to be in a conversation we can explore things in a more meaningful way. Going deeper and wider is all learning – learning about yourself and learning about the person you’re in conversation. Through conversation, knowledge is shared.
A great example of this is the recent conversation Marc Maron had with President Obama (link to audio file here.)
2. It becomes about us and not about you. When you engage in a conversation it automatically implies that there’s another person involved – in fact, the dictionary uses the words “an exchange of ideas” in the definition. By nature it just can’t be about me or you, it has to be about us.
3. It requires you to listen. If you’re going to engage in a meaningful conversation you need to be fully present to the moment. Being fully present means you have to listen, you can’t just wing-it or be distracted by trying to figure out what your going to say and how your going to say it. Hearing is one thing, but listening is the key. Listening is not about you and our world needs more “we” and less “I” or “me”.
4. It fosters a greater sense of community. There’s power in being part of a meaningful conversation. We’re not meant to live life isolated and alone. A good, meaningful conversation can help create a connection and a ripple that can change the world. And who doesn’t want to be involved in something that changes the world!
I started by saying that I hate small talk. But here’s the thing, I tolerate it because in the end, it gets the ball rolling on what I hope becomes a meaningful conversation. The challenge is this, don’t let it be all small talk. Be adventurous. Be adventurous. Be vulnerable. Be open and willing to take the conversation to the next step.
Let me be the first to say that it’s not easy. There are times when engaging in a meaningful conversation, being vulnerable and open to go wide and deep with someone is the last you want to do. When you feel that way, push through. I promise it will be worth it in the end.
Be well and make it a great day!