In This Mindset Is Everything: We explore how ‘online talk’ can distract and make us miss out on opportunities?
We live in an increasingly aggressive and talkative culture. With that aggression there has also been a rise in derogatory talk. Check out the comments made by Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Federal Progressive Conservative Party, in this YouTube video at the 8-minute mark, about the future location of Prime Minister Trudeau’s office. Unprofessional behaviour for any leader especially one seeking the Prime Minister’s job.
Social media platforms have made it extremely easy for us to talk 24/7 with little or no filters applied at times. Its raison d’etre is to keep us on the platform and talking constantly. LinkedIn prompts us to ‘start a post’. Twitter asks, ‘what’s happening?’ And Facebook wants to know ‘what’s on your mind?’ Since the pandemic this has increased ten-fold.
I get technology is a lifeline for all of us right now. I have not seen my 84-year-old Dad (in the flesh) since February 2020. And was only able to spend 7-days with my mother as she lay dying in her hospital bed in September 2020. At the one-year pandemic mark, you would think we should be pros at online conversations. And yet we fall short.
Have you noticed how online talk is a one-sided monologue?
The sole purpose seems to be to push information out. Type the word ‘blog’ in a browser and you get 10,670,000,000 results. That is an awful lot of ‘talking at’ us and surprisingly little meaningful engaging going on.
Recently I was one of the people who was directly ‘talked at’. It all started when I read an online post. It was articulate and presented a few insightful perspectives on a topic I have extensive knowledge of. I saw the post as an invitation to engage, a conversation thought starter you might say, and wanted to explore further. Afterall is the reason behind articles and posts about connecting, informing and engaging?? So, I chimed in.
My comments offered another perspective from that of the author. While it challenged the author’s position it was not disrespectful. Being aware of how people are quick to judge and jump to the wrong conclusion, I purposefully stated that my intention was not to offend. Rather the aim was to go deeper and obtain better clarity. I was curious and wanted to better understand the author’s thinking. Several followers reached out to say they had not thought of it in that way and appreciated the comments.
Curiously, the author did not engage at all. While another follower did not agree with my perspective. That too was okay. As Theodore Zeldin, CBE and Oxford Scholar, states in his book – Conversation: How Talk Can Change Our Lives – meaningful conversations ‘start with the willingness to emerge a slightly different person’. As such it requires an exchange of thoughts and ideas where both parties are willing participants. By chiming in, I was signaling I was a willing participant.
Sadly, any attempt on my part, to forge a meeting of minds failed. Meeting of minds is not just about talking more, pushing out and exchanging facts. This action reminds me of two people trying to communicate when they do not speak the same language. One person ends up shouting at the other person. As though talking louder will make the other person understand.
Meeting of minds is about transforming facts, reshaping them into new trains of thought. By this follower’s, at times extremely disrespectful responses, I sensed there was not any interest to do this.
Unlearning Tip – Stop talking please!
It may surprise you to know that talking – something most of us can do – does not automatically garner meaningful conversations. I know this to be true because after years of practice, to engage in meaningful conversations, there are times I catch myself presenting a one-sided monologue.
Talking is about individualism, responding to and receiving information. At times it can even be messy. Though it should never be disrespectful. Talking will not necessarily change your own or other peoples’ mind about an idea. As evidenced by the online exchange mentioned previously.
In his book Zeldin describes how in the past dinner conversations were wonderful and engaging because there would regularly be guests with different backgrounds introducing new topics. Today, most online exchanges attract more or less the same people with similar interests and experiences. Social media platform algorithms ensure it. It is a marketing practice known as transactional behaviour data. People of the same profession and interests often think alike. Experience tells us they seldom produce different and inspiring exchanges or another way to think. ‘Conversations, like families, dies when it is inbred.’
Meaningful conversations are about inspiring people.
Rhetoric and narrowing of the mind cannot light a spark that starts a fire in your belly and springs you into fruitful action. Meaningful conversations are always respectful. The interaction is a risky experiment because it does not come with instructions. It is an adventure whose results are never guaranteed. Meaningful conversations, the kind that can change our lives, is a focus on what happens on the journey and not simply getting to the destination.
The Last Word –
When we travel, we immerse ourselves in the local culture. We connect with strangers and engage them in conversation. We are eager to listen and learn about them and their lives. Then why is it when we are online, this part of our brain shuts off?