conversation is an engine

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Care for the Communicator’s Soul

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517geRI9byL._SS500_[1]As a communication manager for a medical device company, my colleagues and I understood the company would push as far as you would go, using every last drop of your energy. Oh sure, there was talk of work/life balance—that would be the official line. But the reality was that expectations constantly ratcheted up and, depending on the ambition of your director/VP, an imbalance toward life (versus work) was not well received. Given this set of conditions, where does the communicator get the courage to take care of themselves?

I thought of how to combat this set of conditions recently after conversations with two talented friends who had been sprinting through their work lives for the last two years—both of them at a medical device company notorious for burning personnel down to the nub. Two answers come to mind: craft and spirit.


In Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work (NY: Penguin Press, 2009), Matthew B. Crawford makes the point that the trades are actually intellectually stimulating (writing from the standpoint of a philosopher/motorcycle mechanic) while the work of knowledge workers more often approaches the work of clerks as actual decisions and craft move up to the corner office or out of the office altogether. I think Crawford is right. I suggest that finding a corner of one’s work life to practice one’s craft may have a healing effect on the soul. For me it had to do with getting back to handling sentences and spinning out arguments with words that served clients and their worthwhile activities. But another friend’s craft is directly related to helping members of an organization live up to their gifts and the organization to its stated vision. Doing what we’re meant to do has a healing effect.



There really is no one who will shepherd your soul at work—unless you have a pastorally-gifted person in the cubicle next to you. On the other hand, the gift of conversation is one of the deep joys of working with great people. And there is nothing like an honest conversation to refresh the soul. Of course, I’m not talking about the catty cynicisms that pass in gossip around the coffee station—those rob the soul as surely as the micromanaging boss. Our spirit is refreshed by honest conversation—it’s part of how God made us.

 If we can  carve out time to practice our craft and watch out for our spirit (and, perhaps, even the souls of the people around us), we may find ourselves with the courage to say “No” to running on empty.


Written by kirkistan

July 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Posted in art and work

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. […] Matthew B. Crawford’s Shop Class as Soulcraft, brought to mind (and keyboard) a couple friends laboring to maintain a work/life balance and […]

  2. […] of Jewish scholars who were also workers. Thinking and working should be intertwined, much like Matthew Crawford wrote about so […]

  3. […] his thinking forward. That connection between thinking and craft is something Matthew Crawford (Shop Class as Soulcraft) would likely agree with. Spinoza’s lenses were renowned and admired—he did good glass work. […]

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