Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Being Invisible

Want to try an interesting experiment? The next time you get together with friends, go out to a party, or attend a networking event try being invisible. It is really interesting and very easy to do. The way to become invisible at a gathering is to ask the first question of someone you meet, or someone you know. I've discovered that when I do that the person goes on and on about themselves and rarely asks me about how I am or what I am doing. There is little or no reciprocity. You can spend an entire evening listening to your friends and neighbors, business associates and new acquaintances and never say a word other than to ask the next question. Try it. You will be amazed at how quickly you can become invisible.

The art of conversation has been lost among the world of Twitter, Facebook, blogs and instant fame. It seems to be much more important to proclaim what we've done recently rather than dialogue about an issue or idea. Most current conversation are statements thrown up against, or in support of each other. But rarely are they elicited by a question, or and interaction. One person finishes speaking, or not, and the other jumps in with a statement of their own which may or may not have to anything to do with the topic at hand. We might as well be standing on opposite street corners posturing on our soap boxes and stating to the world what we believe, or what we've done.

The problem with this discourse is that is doesn't propel deep thinking, or generate new ideas. This type of discourse focuses more on "winning by sheer volume." Okay, not all conversation has to be deep or generate new ideas, but when was the last time you had a substantive conversation about a relevant topic where there was a give and take of ideas and everyone listened to and learned from each other? We all need a refresher course in the art of conversation.

So, try the experiment of being invisible. First of all, you will learn a lot. Listening to others is the quickest way to garner new ideas and perspectives. Second you can become aware of how little reciprocity there is in current dialogue. Hopefully it will create a desire in you to find meaningful dialogue during the week. Those dialogues lead to new insights, ideas and perspectives. And, at least you won't be invisible anymore.

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