Use conversation to generate new ideas

201602-gratisography-conversationI’m a big fan of podcasts. Right now, I’m listening to Tim Ferriss interview Seth Godin. It’ll take me two days of commuting to finish it, but I already know I’m going to be sad when it’s over.

I love listening to conversation-style podcasts. I’ll inevitably capture some new idea about something while listening. Maybe it’s work-related. Maybe it’s about my personal life. Maybe it’s as simple as a book I should read, or a Wikipedia page I should browse.

The power of conversation is the fact that it demands attention. I can’t help but guess the answer someone will give, even before the interviewer finishes asking. I love to be surprised by the answer.

One idea I got from listening to Tim and Seth is the notion of attention versus trust. Seth was talking in a marketing context. First, you have to earn someone’s attention. Once you’ve received enough attention, and have delivered enough value, you’ll gain their trust.

It’s fun to think about how that works in my professional life. I receive attention from some people be default. Read: my boss. Other people, if I want their attention, I have to actively seek it. I have to initiate an engagement.

Regardless of how I earn attention, once I have it, I need to deliver the goods. The quickest way to be ignored, or worse, is to fight for someone’s attention and then waste their time.

My point here is that participating in conversation, or at the very least eavesdropping on a conversation via a podcast or television interview, can be eye-opening. Even if you’re listening to someone you’re very familiar with, the conversation will go somewhere you don’t expect.

We have access to so much media, it’s too easy to live inside a cocoon. It’s easy to keep going back to people and topics you really like, with little chance of stumbling onto something new and outside your comfort zone.

Conversations are chaotic. There’s no script. Two minds are working in real time, trying to share information and build a coherent path through a series of topics. It’s an awesome way to get out of your own head.

We’re social creatures. We’re not meant to withdraw and trace the same shapes, over and over and over again. Conversations do take up time and mental energy. But if you dance with your partner, you can learn and explore all kinds of cool topics. It’s a great way to move past whatever block may be holding you down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *