conversation is an engine

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When You Know Too Much

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You should shut up

tumblr_meuhb3QZSV1qbcporo1_1280-12122012Sometimes you are in a meeting and you know more than most people in the room. I’m not writing about an ego trip here or an exalted view of self. I’m writing about a function of age and experience. You personally have wrestled with the three topics circling the meeting’s agenda. And most of that wrestling was two decades ago. You know the people and stories and ethos the leader is referring to from deep study of your own—and you reached your own conclusions about five years ago. You’ve been there. And you’ve done that. I’m sounding like an old guy.

That’s the time to take action: Shut up.

Not entirely, but show some restraint. Why? It’s tempting to say you should shut up to hide what a cranky old codger you are. It’s also tempting to say “Shut up” to give the neophytes an opportunity to make their own mess of things. But neither of those tell the whole story.

In a meeting yesterday a group of us talked about a set of communication (and theological) issues revolving around reaching out to a growing population of immigrants to the Twin Cities. I said too much—I realized this on the slick, snowy drive home. But then I realized: no, honest discussion is exactly the give and take, the push and pull, the misunderstanding followed by dawning group understanding. That is the way of human communication. It’s mostly messy.

Here’s the point: every communication event is fresh. Even cranky old geezers who know too much can learn, because the players are different and the times are different and frankly, new stuff is happening. All. The. Time.

So: bring your experience to the table, by all means. And steel yourself: results will vary.

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Image credit: Denis Dubois via 2headedsnake

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Written by kirkistan

December 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

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