4 hours, 2 cups of coffee and 1 joy – the art of conversation

dedicated to Maverick Foo

(I have always been a sucker for an enriching conversation; a conversation that adds value to the conversationalist involved. I do miss the likes of arwah Piya and Taya (Al-fatihah) whom have indulged me in many an enriching conversation in their life time. I miss them both very much as I am writing this. I enjoy both of them because each of them have their favourite topics to converse in. Piya with the fine art world and Taya with the topic of Malay dilemmas.

At the same time, I am thankful to still have a few individuals that are still ‘bebal’ enough to indulge me in this dying art of a conversation. And one of these people is my dear friend Maverick (yes his name is that and he lives up to it in his endeavours, be it personal or professional).

We deliberately slotted a time yesterday to chill and have a conversation. I am so thankful for it especially at this time of the year when we are entering into a news year which coincidently is also the time I will be entering a new phase of my business. I needed to just unwind and explore new ideas and perspective. It was a conversation that was bound to be enjoyable because we had to adjust a few things on both our ends to meet up. Divinity made it so that it happens ­čÖé

Usually, we will start by catching up on things like family, travel, “what are you up to”, “How’s Will (his son) doing”, “How’s biz?” those normal stuff people talk about. And without fail, every single time, the conversation will move into ‘deep’ stuff we both are passionate about like entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing (he more than me but I love learning from him) and the training industry. And again without fail, lo and behold it will lead to something wonderful. Besides the usual promised profound learning and A-Has there will always be some practical and innovative ideas/solution, for us to take away and execute (on my end at least).

The 4 hours of conversation over two cups of coffee was not only an enjoyable act of passing time but also a relationship builder, a learning opportunity, a mentoring session, a coaching session, a consultation, an entertainment event and a brainstorming session; all rolled into one. That was how valuable conversations can be.

How I wish people and even organisations schedule time outs for conversation; free flowing conversations, unobstructed conversation, unmoderated conversation… just pure conversation.

At the same time, holding a conversation is an art form. Like any art form, the principles can be taught but the mastery is always in the practice. In an enriching conversation, certain values must exist for it to truly be enriching. There must be openness, desire to contribute, curiosity, mutual respect and admiration for one another. The skills needed are listening and enquiring, among others. Some tips to make it enriching are be solution focus, talk about ideas, hold a vision of what could be as oppose to what it has become, be future focus not past centric, be moving and not be stuck, make suggestions not criticism etc.

Like any art form, the principles can be taught but the mastery is always in the practice.

Maybe, I and Mav could device a workshop on the art of enriching conversation and advocate this art form as means for people and organisation to interact and grow.

p.s See. By just writing this reflection on a conversation produces an idea worth exploring. The power of a conversation goes beyond the mere moment it is held; it ripples through time.

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