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I’ve had a lot on my mind these last months.  Guessing you have, too.  So I’ll get to my point.  I need your advice.  As many of you know, I’ve been working on my second book. It’s about how to have more meaningful and memorable conversations. And how to do so with greater grace, ease, authenticity, confidence, and joy.  I guess you could call it the prequel to my first book, The Intentional NetworkerPhoto by Joshua Ness on Unsplah

Yes, it’s taking forever!!  Partly because there’s so much to learn and say about how to be a really good conversationalist.  (Side note #1:  Being a good conversationalist is not about being the most knowledgeable or fascinating person in the room, having charm or “the gift of gab,” always knowing what to say, etc. It’s really about knowing what to ask — and when to listen.  Studies reveal very few of us are good at this.)

Does this topic interest you?  Even a little?

The reason I ask is I’m hearing and seeing so may “conversations” – no, let’s call them what they really are:  “non-versations” (thanks, Mike Robertson, for introducing me to that word). These exchanges, many of them on social media, are shockingly curt, shallow, one-way, self-focused, dismissive, mean, divisive, offensive, and even bullying.  There’s name-calling, drama, and a lot of flaming friendship bridges:  “If you don’t believe in _____, then unfriend me now!”  “If you don’t vote for ____ then you’re _____.”  “If you don’t feel _____ I’m so done with you!”

Does this bother you?  Is this what we’ve become? Does anyone care about making, keeping, and building friendships anymore? How about traits such as character, patience, kindness, understanding, graciousness, self-management, or respect?  And is it not possible for there to be more than one point of view?  And are there any views in the middle?  Any gray areas that need closer examination? Certainly, I’m a fan of boundaries and respect, but it sure seems like we are being very impatient and unkind with each other.

This makes me so sad.

Interestingly (or ironically), I was working on the chapter about Graciousness, Respect & Likability in the weeks leading up to the election. Boy, that was interesting.  It became so clear that we really need these powerful traits — and in the giant economy size — now more than ever.  But they are rare.

All that said, I’ve been asking myself daily — and now I’m asking all of you…

Am I wasting my time working on a book about meaningful conversation?  Is anyone out there interested in reading a book that might help us regain our heart, soul, caring and dignity with each other?  Our ability to talk, listen, get to know each other, and understand each other? Does anyone want to learn to connect in ways that could potentially build bridges, give us something to think (or laugh) about, and add more meaning and joy to our lives? (Side note #2: Being a good conversationalist – and being in good company – can boost your mood and immunity, reduce pain, keep your mind sharp, and add years to your life. And that’s not even getting to the parts about improving your career, creativity, relationships, and sense of belonging, which we humans are hard-wired for.)  Or would we rather be “right?”

I’d truly appreciate your opinions and thoughts on this.  You can comment here or simply reply to this email.  I’m listening.