Conversation

Quotes about Conversation / Connection

“Many of the things we all struggle with in love and work can be helped by conversation. Without conversation, studies show that we are less empathic, less connected, less creative and fulfilled. We are diminished, in retreat.” – from Reclaiming Conversation – The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, by Sherry Turkle. Great interview with her on how “smart” phones hurt our face-to-face relationships.

“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Neil Postman

“Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist

“It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said. It wasn’t much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.” – in The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers

Alexander McCall Smith has the character Angus Lordie say, in Bertie’s Guide to Life and Mothers, “He [psychiatrist Dr. Macgregor] told me that the solution to so many problems is to talk about them. If you talk freely about a problem, then you take away its power to distress you.”

“A politician is required to listen to humbug, talk humbug, condone humbug. The most we can hope for is that we don’t actually believe it.” – Character in P.D. James’ A Taste for Death

An Ann Landers "Gem of the Day": 

  • People of high intelligence talk about ideas.

  • People of average intelligence talk about things.

  • People with no intelligence talk about other people.

  • Where are you in the line-up?

“She had imagined she would have nice long conversations with Peter after they were married, but it had turned out that marriage in the circles in New York in which they traveled consisted of men who pontificated publicly, and the women who let their faces go still while they did so. Maybe that was true everywhere. Between times, in their own living rooms, the men seemed to be resting for the next round of pontificating and so saved their strength by staying silent.” – from Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen

“The cultivation of a stance of invulnerability robs men of a wisdom known to most women in this culture – that people actually connect better when they expose their weakness. Linguist Deborah Tannen, analyzing women’s ‘rapport talk’ versus men’s ‘report talk,’ found that a vital component of conversation between women was what she called ‘trouble talk’ – inviting the listener in by opening up one’s own points of vulnerability. Finally, to the degree to which a man learns to ‘be strong’ and to devalue weakness, his compassion toward frailty not just in himself but also in those around him may be limited or condescending. In this and many other ways, the loss of expressivity and the loss of vulnerability inevitably lead to diminished connection with others.” – from I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression, by Terrence Real

“The cure for states is feelings. As I discovered that day in the shower, unlike states, which tend to congeal, feelings will run their own course in due time. Despite the often expressed male fear that if one were to let oneself cry, one would never stop, tears, in fact, eventually taper off if one lets them. Feelings are not endless, but our numbing attempts to avoid them can last a lifetime.” – Terrence Real in I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Overcoming The Secret Legacy of Male Depression

“Back on the rez, a grandfather was talking to his grandson about his feelings after the attacks [9/11]. He said, “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart. One wolf is the vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is the loving, compassionate one.” The grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win the fight in your heart?” The grandfather answered, “The one that I feed.”

“You don’t use technology alone to clean up the mess technology created. We are talking about new ways of perceiving relationships among human beings – a troublesome species – and the earth. Those ways are already there in Indian teachings.” – Alfonso Ortiz

“But people desire fair government. You say that constantly.” “They want to believe in heroes, also. And villains. Especially when frightened. It’s less taxing than the truth.” – conversation between Trotsky & book’s main character, in The Lacuna, a fascinating novel by Barbara Kingsolver

“Our best hope for going forward is learning to let go, and part of that is letting go of anger and delusion. Much of the current finger-pointing is fundamentally conservative as it seeks to maintain an impossible status quo, even if it waves a radical banner. But the big conversations we need to have are with each other. And for that we’re more in need of wounded healers (grateful, uncertain, compassionate, complicit) than raging prophets.” – David Korowicz

“People with self-respect have a kind of moral nerve. The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self-respect springs.” – Joan Dideon (quoted in Failure to Communicate – How Conversations Go Wrong & What You Can Do to Right Them, by Holly Weeks)

“If we continue to refuse to deal with things in an orderly and rational way, we will head into some sort of major catastrophe, sooner or later,” he said. “If we are lucky it will be big enough to wake us up worldwide but not big enough to wipe us out. That is the best we can hope for. We must transcend our evolutionary history. We’re Ice Age hunters with a shave and a suit. We are not good long-term thinkers. We would much rather gorge ourselves on dead mammoths by driving a herd over a cliff than figure out how to conserve the herd so it can feed us and our children forever. That is the transition our civilization has to make. And we’re not doing that.” – Ronald Wright in conversation with Chris Hedges in an article called ‘The Myth of Human Progress’

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.” – William Henry Channing

“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars...” – Jack Kerouac

“A woman is an important somebody and sometimes you win the triple crown: good food, good sex, and good talk. Most men settle for any one, happy as a clam if they get two. But listen, let me tell you something. A good man is a good thing, but there is nothing in the world better than a good, good woman. She can be your mother, your wife, your girlfriend, your sister, or somebody you work next to. Don’t matter. You find one, stay there. You see a scary one, make tracks.” – grandfather character Sandler Gibbons speaking to his grandson Romen, from the novel Love, by Toni Morrison

“If a thing is never spoken between people who know each other well, and each knows the thing well, maybe it’s not a secret. …. It’s a powerful thing, that ability to tell the truth when the truth is upon you, but it has another power entirely when you don’t tell it.” – Stephen Jenkinson in Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

“If you can’t say something, you can’t see it either.” – Stephen Jenkinson in Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

“I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these teachers.” – Kahlil Gibran

“I do not want to talk about what you understand about this world. I want to know what you will do about it. I do not want to know what you hope. I want to know what you will work for. I do not want your sympathy for the needs of humanity. I want your muscle.” – Robert Fulghum

Talk – Action = Zero ……… ad in Jan/Feb. 2009 ‘Watershed Sentinel’ magazine

“It’s one of the secrets of the world. We all have the key to one another’s locks. But until we start to talk, we don’t know it.” – Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s ‘Bookworm’ radio show

“Words bring us together, and silence separates us, leaves us bereft of the help or solidarity or just communion that speech can solicit or elicit. Some species of trees spread root systems underground that interconnect the individual trunks and weave the individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversation are like those roots. For a century, the human response to stress and danger has been defined as “fight or flight.” A 2000 UCLA study by several psychologists noted that this research was based largely on studies of male rats and male human beings. But studying women led them to a third, often deployed option: gather for solidarity, support, advice. They noted that “behaviorally, females’ responses are more marked by a pattern of ‘tend-and-befriend.’ Tending involves nurturant activities designed to protect the self and offspring that promote safety and reduce distress; befriending is the creation and maintenance of social networks that may aid in this process.” Much of this is done through speech, through telling of one’s plight, through being heard, through hearing compassion and understanding in the response of the people you tend to, whom you befriend. Not only women do this, but perhaps women do this more routinely. It’s how I cope, now that I have one.” – Rebecca Solnit in The Mother of All Questions

p.s. a recent posting about the power of conversation. An older posting about the same thing, pretty much, here.

**** Quotes about Silence are here