As I have traveled around the country speaking, I have frequently been asked, “Can you give us some examples of ‘fake talk’? We’re not sure exactly what that means.” You’ll remember that fake talk is any conversation that doesn’t achieve the results that you want.
Having traveled and spoken a lot this year, it is always interesting to see what learning lessons will emerge from the people that I address. I recently conducted a session with a large group with one person who seemed to be more interested in challenging me than in listening and learning about something that she hadn’t heard before. She seemed bent on contesting a lot of what I was saying with a constant barrage of, “Yeah, buts.”
Not long ago I was reflecting on a conversation that I had with my spouse. I thought that I had not been a very good listener in a conversation that we had about an hour earlier. Knowing that she was in the next room, I called out to her, “Stephanie, I was thinking about that conversation we just had, and I was thinking I need to apologize for not listening or giving you my full attention when you were talking. Will you forgive me?” She responded, “For which time?”
Years ago I started to notice that the way I spoke to my children did not produce the desired results. I remember one day when my oldest brought home a B- in math, and I said something like, “You got a B- in math? What happened?” Immediately my spouse responded with, “Some kind of a communication expert you are!”
Earlier in the year I spent two days working with and teaching a number individuals helping them improve their ability to hold difficult conversations. After the session one of the organization’s directors who stopped by to observe said, “This is all well and good, but you know, you can’t teach a pig to sing!”
My uncle Mel passed away after living a wonderful life. He was one of those brave souls who fought in World War II and was lucky to make it home. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was a member of 87th Infantry Division that came up from the south on the west side of Bastogne.
Negativity in our speech and attitudes seems to be running rampant in our culture at the present time. There is more mention in the media about injustice, instability, or inequality than there is mention of opportunity, integrity, and virtue.
I was recently facilitating a class for executives teaching them how to hold potentially difficult conversations. One of the attendees asked me, “With all that we already have to do, is this really all that important?” I walked to the whiteboard and drew a picture