Building conversation (philosophically speaking)

I am very fortunate to be studying philosophy with Dr. Fred Newman, a brilliant “people’s philosopher” and long time mentor, colleague and friend. Fred has been giving our Developmental Philosophy Group practical training in the art of discourse.

We are learning how to talk to one another. It turns out that most of us are not particularly skilled in building a conversation and in speaking to each other without putting ourselves at the center of the conversation. Fred asked us, “What if you eliminated the self all together and think only of the other?”.

Not surprisingly we were able to build more in our conversations. After all, we live in an “arrogant culture” where we often don’t think others have much to say. We try to say “the right thing” in order to be the smartest person in the room. It turns out that “saying something right” stultifies the conversation.

This way of conversing goes on everywhere and especially in business. It’s an individuated way of knowing and relating. A building versus a knowing learning model is where creativity and innovation live. We all have the capacity to build, organize, help each other and create conversation. It’s a lot more intimate and, frankly, it might just be the right thing to do!