Filed in Book reviews.
Last week I ordered Conversation: A History of a Declining Art by Stephen Miller from Amazon. I’d heard the author interviewed by Phillip Adams on Late Night Live and it sounded interesting. Today I read Steve Denning’s stinging review which I thoroughly enjoyed. Denning didn’t like Miller’s inability to clearly make the case for declining conversations; his arguments lacked evidence according to Denning.
Denning, presumably based on Miller’s book, makes a number of useful observations about good conversation which are worth remembering when we sit down next to our next friendly chat.
- an open-minded exploration of multiple viewpoints makes for a good conversation
- a single-minded attempt to destroy others’ ideas kills conversations
- good conversations include amusing banter
- conversation works best among equals
- conversations have been a rare phenomenon
This is a timely topic for me because in one hour I will be recording a podcast with Patrick Lambe, Nancy White, Matthew Moore and Kaye Vivian where we plan to have a series of informal conversations on knowledge management related topics. I’ll let you know how we go.
I would also say that I have noticed that people in organisation rarely seem to have (or make) the time for conversation. Most talking is done to achieve a task which must reduce the ability for people to explore new ideas, innovate and revitalise their thinking.