Dialogues of the Deaf

Categories Idiocy, Leader Development, life


OK this might be closer to a rant than anything else, but I am sick and tired of people who talk their way through an entire conversation without EVER asking a single question of others around the table.

Let me make it simple. STOP TALKING and ask a question instead!

This week I was traveling away from home and had to participate in a conference call. So, in classic fashion, I grabbed a coffee and an outdoor table at a nearby Starbucks. About halfway through the call two other men —one older, one in his mid thirties— pulled up chairs at the table next to mine.

I had my earbuds in and was focused on my call, but I could still tell that these men were having some kind of conversation about the Bible and the Christian life.  But here’s the deal, the older man talked the entire time. And, by entire time, I literally mean he never stopped talking. He never asked a question. There was no discussion, no curiosity, no shared learning, no mutuality. Just one big verbal dump truck that never stopped burying the other guy. It scares me to think this might have been some kind of mentoring relationship.

When I got up to leave I had my first chance to look at the faces of the two men. The poor guy who’d been dumped on looked so tired. Trapped even. It was all I could do to not walk over and yell, stop talking.

I met with a pastor in my city a few months back. Our lunch meeting was arranged by a mutual friend. A chance to get to know each other, to discover some of the shared passions and ministry potential that might exist. At least that’s what I thought. But the dude started talking as soon as he sat down and never came up for air. He never asked a single question. Never expressed an ounce of curiosity or interest in me. Never discovered anything that he didn’t already think he knew. It was as stunning as it was infuriating.

Here’s my point. Questions are powerful. They are the big secret to stimulating conversation and the pathway to shared learning. They communicate respect to others. They breathe life into a relationship.  And, they invite the dynamic of discovery, even the chance to create new learning together.

But, if you are always talking you have no idea what gems of insight or depth of relationship you are preventing. So, don’t be that guy (or gal.) Choose the path less traveled. Ask questions! It will change everything and might just be more fun.

If you are the kind of person who loves a great quote, I remember someone quoting Paul Tournier. “Most conversations are merely dialogs of the deaf.” My added commentary is that all too often we suffer parallel monologues where instead of listening, people are merely looking for an opportunity to launch into their next speech.

I dare you. Change it up. Next time you are sitting with someone, ask more questions. Listen to their replies. See what you discover. Become a leader who is loved for what they ask about rather than what they talk about.

FYI: Listening can be healing and empowering all by itself.

… Gary


P.S. Unbestinkinglievable! It happened again today!

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