Watching Johnny Carson host The Tonight Show kept me up past my bedtime as an adolescent and teenager. Although I loved Johnny, it was his (groundbreaking) substitute host, Joan Rivers who inspired me. I loved imitating her signature question, “Can we talk?”
Can we talk about conversation?
During an interview with journalist David Brooks, NBC’s Mike Barnicle shared his perspective on this topic: “We live in a no eye contact nation.” In business, politics, and family life we have to make an extra effort to talk to one another without the interference of a technology platform. One effective way to talk to anyone (whether or not we “agree”) is to follow our curiosity – that makes for great conversation.
Sara McMahon/Radha Ganesan
Can we talk about human connection?
Last month the Applied Improvisation Network held its annual conference at Stony Brook University in conjunction with the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Alda, the featured speaker, engaged in a rich dialogue with Dr. Laura Lindenfeld (Director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science) and Aretha Sills, teacher of improvisational theatre and granddaughter of Viola Spolin. Spolin’s methods, discoveries, and writings gave birth to the modern improvisational theater movement. Spolin’s son and Aretha’s father, Paul Sills, co-founded The Second City and created Story Theater, among other accomplishments. Alda reminded the international audience of applied improv practitioners of the human need for connection, “We want to hear stories.” Through improvisational play we, “discover ourselves in the other’s eyes.”
Can we talk about open space?
After two days of open space offerings at the Global Improvisation Initiative conference in London in May, I’ve become a fan. Open space technology is a powerful tool for engaging large and small groups of people in discussions to explore particular questions or issues. It can be used with groups of 10 to 1,000 people. In contrast with pre-planned conferences where presentations are scheduled months in advance, participants self-organize to create their own agenda, allowing a dynamic and immediate response to the issues at hand. Open space is participant-driven, requiring discussion and dialogue amongst attendees. How can open space foster more conversation and creativity in your organization?
Can we talk?
Let’s have a conversation about what you’re working on and how I can help.