conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Hey buddy, can you spare a story?

with 3 comments

Every Conversation Does Something

I’m writing a book called “Listentalk: how simple conversations change your life every day.” You can read the raw argument here and the beginning of the Dummy’s Guide here and see the larger picture here. The book currently has eight chapters and 85,000 words and I’m starting to market it. But I fear it is too esoteric.

So… this plea to you.

I need roughly three dozen stories about conversations that altered your life. I’m looking for those conversations where an innocent, even mundane exchange turned into something much larger. It’s usually in retrospect that we recognize these conversations. At the time they seem like nothing. But a decade (or three) later you remember the talk or the person or the exchange as transformative. The conversation was a turning point. Maybe your life today reflects something of that conversation.

Would you tell me your story? Would you tell me two stories? Contact me through the comments below and we’ll talk and I’ll listen. I’ll even listen if you tell me someone else’s story. But I’m looking for true stories.

Can you spare a story?


Written by kirkistan

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 am

3 Responses

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  1. Several years ago, sitting in a counselor’s office, a two-word comment was made to me that at the time sounded anything BUT encouraging.

    “You’re underemployed.”

    Indeed, the words felt more like a caustic slap in the face. What I heard was “You’re an underacheiver. You’ve done little to advance yourself or reach your potential as a human being.” At the time my husband and I were coming off raising a rebelious teenager and had another special needs child who was trying our sanity on a daily basis. Underemployed? I was ready to tell Mr. Counselor where to put his underemployed.

    As I got over my initial knee-jerk response and saw the comment for what it was, an honest observation and assessment that I had untapped potential, the words took on new meaning which, I believe, played a significant role in empowering me to believe that I had the ability to determine more of my own future. I was 40ish at the time and, other than a few part time jobs, hadn’t even considered–much less begun to explore career possibilities for myself. Indeed, I had been holding anchor at home while my husband took a 24-year ‘scenic tour’ of completing his college education. Could it be mine turn now?

    Fast forward a couple of years. A short time into apart time office job at a real estate office I recall my broker suggesting, “You should get your real estate license.” Never mind the market was crashing and the result over the next two years would lead to a mass exodus of professionals who could no longer make a go of it. A proverbial ‘culling of the herd’. I saw opportunity to challenge myself and explore the truth behind those fateful words uttered to me in the counselor’s office.

    Now fast forward three years to my healthy growing profession selling real estate–yes, in a down market. The less than frantic pace has provided the perfect climate to learn and absorb the new ‘language’. I’m really OK with the cliche’ of the middle aged woman reinventing herself with a career in real estate. In combining the skills of my trade with the emotional inroads women are so well adapted to, I am providing a real and valuable service to others. I’m proud of myself and love what I do.
    Underemployed? On the contrary. The skydive I took this past summer to mark my 50th birthday was quite symbolic of what feels like my new post-raising children life. Taking risks, pushing myself out of my comfort zone past what I thought I was ever capable of doing, I am thrilled with the view from here.

    Lori Malin

    November 6, 2010 at 11:29 am

    • I appreciate the starkness of “You’re underemployed.” Sometimes the words we know, when spoken aloud, become a sort of anti-battlecry. Or maybe they form a small island we start pushing away from. Thank you for looking back to see that island far in the distance.


      November 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      • Yes, the shore is no longer in sight! Ha ha! Now if the guy in the counselor’s office would have merely thought to himself, “She’s underemployed”, but never spoken it aloud, I would have been deprived of the positive impact those words had.

        Interesting to think how under-utilized spoken language is becoming when we are all spending so much time in front of our computers. I’m not a bad conversationalist, but am still far more comfortable using email than making a phone call or having a face to face. Even at home I’ve been guilty of texting family members on the next floor to tell them diner is ready.

        Some people possess the skill of quickly and easily assessing the appropriateness and value vs. risk of choosing the right words to say in the small back and forth windows of time most conversation are made up of. Some careers demand high levels of this kind of adeptness. Others may hold back saying what they think or feel, lacking confidence their words will be well conveyed and received. Once they mentally assemble a response they would interject, in their brief hesitation the moment to contribute passes. It is a skilled CONVERSATIONALIST, not just commuicator who, in speaking with such a person, can bolster their confidence and draw them out. They say the person asking the questions is really the one in charge of a dialog.

        Personally, being in the daily company of someone on the autistic spectrum has certainly given me a front row seat to challenged communication! That seat was definitely NOT left behind on the island.

        Lori Malin

        November 8, 2010 at 3:39 am

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