Sunday Morning Conversation

I woke to my family’s usual Sunday Morning routine. Being
the first to rise, I watch as the family staggers from their bedrooms with
sleep in their eyes. My son heads downstairs to work on his Guitar Hero chops,
my daughter climbs into our bed to watch the latest on the all important Disney
Channel, and my wife and I grab our coffee and settle in to watch CBS News
Sunday Morning

While not as good as it was when Charles Kuralt hosted, and
despite too many reruns from the archives, as well as Charles Osgood’s annoying
obsession with rhyming and insistence on referring to the year as
“twenty-oh-seven,” CBS still manages to present some great “articles” during
it’s Sunday morning magazine show.

This morning’s piece, ”Less Talk And A Little More Conversation, was right up the
RemainComm alley. As the use of other forms of communication proliferates, the
ability for people to converse is becoming more of a problem. Though the piece
quickly became too film oriented, the underlying importance of the give and
take of conversation, as well as the importance of listening remained front and

An aside; the topic of blogging came up briefly in comments
from writer Delia Ephron. She noted, “So, if you are blogging…you’re
e-mailing – you aren’t listening, right? You don’t have to listen. It’s really
just what’s in your own head.” Hold up there Ms. Ephron, blogging is more akin to writing than it is to conversation. Are we
comparing apples to apples here? If you’re blogging you are not e-mailing. Ephron
goes on to say, “I mean, conversation is about feelings and emotion,
that’s what it should really be about. If we’re not seeing it, that’s the
loss.” With this, I agree, though make no mistake blogging is also about sharing feelings
and emotion, conversation goes farther and includes seeing and hearing those feelings and emotions.

James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor’s Studio, made a
very crucial point, one that clearly separates the use of new media for
communicating and writing from the art of conversation.

“Do you read your
Internet mail?” asks Lipton. “It’s all abbreviations and the quickest
possible way of transmitting the thought from the brain to the computer.”
He goes on to say, and this is the point of differentiation, “Well, that’s
great for transmitting messages, but that’s not a conversation.” Again, agreed.

Do not mistake transmitting messages with conversation.
There is no doubt; I am a huge fan of using technology to communicate. At the
same time I constantly remind myself that much of it is for transmitting
messages…not conversing. That’s why I can’t spend everyday just glued to my
computer or Smartphone. I need to have face to face time with people. That’s
why I spend too much money on gas going to coffee, lunch, or cocktails to
“converse” with people. More importantly, I learned long ago that e-mail can
really fall short as a replacement for the face to face and should never be a
place for serious conversation. You must be able to hear the inflection, feel
the emotion, enjoy the humor and, especially when you’re talking to me,
recognize the sarcasm. In short, you need the “listen” part.

James Lipton goes on to say that conversation has really only
one key. “Listen,” Lipton said. “Once the conversation has
begun, just listen. It will spark something in you.”

Remember the next time you’re using your Blackberry that the
recipient of your message can’t listen…do not mistake what you are doing for conversation.


  1. Wow Phil….I think this is the best post you’ve ever written (in my humble opinion). Couldn’t agree more and I also have been thinking about how weak mind-mapping, strategizing, brainstorming or ideation is when I’m sitting by my lonesome with a big pad of paper.

    Where my synapses fire — and why what you describe as transmittal of messages vs. conversation — is in the thought exchange, modifications of those thoughts and almost riffing off of one another that occurs when people get together and connect as people.

    I’ve been thinking about how to augment in-person brainstorming with virtual methods and still can’t figure out how to replace the energy, passion and delight that occurs when I’m with one or more people embroiled in great conversation. I don’t think our virtual communication methods are good enough….yet….but I’m keeping my eyes peeled as you are.