How Buying Local Can Save Main Street America

Today’s post is the second in a series of ten posts over the next few weeks, taking a “deeper dive” into the concepts exploring the heart of Melody Warnick’s book, This is Where You Belong.

Here is Warnick’s list of ten placement behaviors that she developed on the journey to “Love where you live.”

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy local
  3. Get to know your neighbors
  4. Do fun stuff
  5. Explore nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through hard times

As author Melody Warnick continued her journey of learning to love where she lived, she began to deeply believe that her habits of buying from Target or ordering online from Amazon were contributing to the downfall of Main Street America. Her shopping habits might be killing both her hometown and her prospects of connecting with it, and that had her worried.

Neighborly economics means you don’t go for what’s cheapest and easiest. You think about which relationships and stores you want to preserve in your town, and you shop there. It may be a financial sacrifice, but:

You need to sacrifice for where you live. Sacrifice is going to make your town stronger.

Jay Leeson

Here’s what she found as she began her research:

One hundred years ago, you bought most of what you needed from a store in your community that was owned and operated by someone who lived there. Prescriptions came from the corner drugstore, whose pharmacist knew your kids and your ailments by name. Books were purchased from a local bookseller, who recommended a few new novels you’d like.

With Main Street acting as both substitute town hall and open-air living room, you could chat with your neighbors, debate the problems of day, and still cross milk and socks off your shopping list.

But as the population grew both in number and across the country, spreading from cities to towns to suburbs, chain stores – one store with multiple locations – began to take over. A few decades later, as first malls and big box stores, then retail strips centers expanded, local stores suffered, and then began to vanish.

In spite of research showing that monies spent locally tend to stay in the community in greater amounts, the trend continues for the most part today.

Warnick believes that there are more than just economic costs, though: Shopping locally is a concrete way to help your town thrive economically and to improve your own quality of life. You start buying stuff in your town, particularly from small independent stores owned by people who live there, and all of a sudden more local people have more jobs. So the city collects more taxes. Then the schools have more money for improvements. The streets get repaved, the parks department builds new sports fields, and so on. With millions of dollars, you’d think we’d all jump on board.

Unfortunately, not.

National chains and big-box stores are cheap, quick, and comforting – the retail equivalent of a fast-food cheeseburger – and their spread has turned much of America into a string of bland Anyplaces.

Warnick believes that the first step in any long-term recovery is recognizing you have a problem. She now had another “Love Where You Live” experiment: weaning herself off Target and Amazon and start spreading more of her cash around her hometown.

She called it her “big-box detox.”

You’ll want to get her book to read more about her journey, including:

  • Cash mobs
  • 3/50 Project
  • Support local shops who support local causes
  • Don’t showroom

Warnick believes this is how it works:

You buy stuff. Pick your local thing – birthday presents, bicycles, running shoes, books, lamps, camera gear, art prints, oil changes, carpet cleaning, piano tuning, or whatever. Pick something to buy, pick a local person or store to buy it from, and then stick with it.

Melody Warnick

You can be a cash mob of one. When you go into a local store to spend $20, you know that buying stuff does more than just for you.


I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book. Sign up for the newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.

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How to Measure the Power of Place Attachment

To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul

Simone Weil

What if a place becomes the right place only by our choosing to love it?

Melody Warnick, author of the fabulous book This Is Where You Belong, sets the whole tone of her book in the first chapter talking about “Place Attachment.”

Humans are instinctively driven to form connection with places. 

The most common term for this is “place attachment,” because it suggests the affectionate, almost familial connection that can form between us and where we live. You mostly know it when you feel it, which you probably have. When you roll into your town after being away for awhile and say, “It’s good to be home,” that’s a product of place attachment. So is feeling drawn as if by magic to a particular city, never wanting to leave the place where you grew up, or never wanting to leave the place you live right now.

If all this sounds a bit touch-feely, it is. Like happiness, place attachment exists partly as emotion and partly as a pattern of thought, which makes it difficult to quantify.

Over the years researchers have developed a “place attachment scale” of statements they use to gauge the sensation. Study participants are usually asked to rank their agreement on a scale of 1 to 5, but for the sake of simplicity, you can assess your own place attachment by answering each of the questions below “true” or “false” about the town or city where you live. Click here or on the image below for a PDF.

The more times you answer “true,” the more likely you are to be attached to your town. Making nineteen or more “true” answers, which puts you in the top quartile, indicates that you probably feel strongly connected to where you live. Six or fewer, on the other hand, suggests that you live somewhere unfamiliar or in a town you’re not particularly over the moon about. And if you’re not very place attached you may be saying to yourself, “Clearly place attachment feels nice. But why should I care? Will it actually make my life feel better?”

According to place attachment research, the answer is a resounding yes. Studies show that when you pit “Stayers” – long-term residents of a place – against “Movers,” the Stayers are generally far more social.

Where we live matters, and staying where we live matters. When it comes to place attachment, our towns are what we think they are.

No matter what anyone else thinks, your town just has to make you happy.

And being a good neighbor starts with you.


I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book (below). Sign up for her newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.

Inspired and adapted from

This is Where You Belong, Melody Warnick

How Taking a Walk Will Make You a Better Neighbor

Today’s post will introduce a series of ten posts over the next few weeks, taking a “deeper dive” into the concepts exploring the heart of Melody Warnick’s book, This is Where You Belong.

Here is Warnick’s list of ten placement behaviors that she developed on the journey to “Love where you live.”

  1. Walk more
  2. Buy local
  3. Get to know your neighbors
  4. Do fun stuff
  5. Explore nature
  6. Volunteer
  7. Eat local
  8. Become more political
  9. Create something new
  10. Stay loyal through hard times

According to author Melody Warnick, scientists call the way we learn to navigate a place “mental mapping.” The concept, based on behavioral psychology studies done several times since the 40s, showed that rats and chimpanzees who had first aimlessly explored a maze developed a cognitive map that helped them quickly scamper through it later.

One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.

Henry Miller

Warnick, through conversations with Jeff Speck, a city planner and author of Walkable City, believes that walking is more than transportation; it’s experience

As you walk anywhere, your five senses are taking in hundreds of stimuli. All these things combine to create another “sense”: a sense of where we are.

Through her research, and in reference to #1 on the list above, Warnick discovered that people who walk a lot feel better about their lives, and one of the principles she was coming to understand about loving where you live is that feeling good in general often translates to feeling good about where you live.

When you’re happy, for whatever reason, you also happen to be happy in the place you live.

Walking helps people discover the character of where they live and why they like it. Otherwise it’s a faceless kind of experience. You don’t come into contact with anybody. Even having the comfort of being social and being around other people is so healthy. It’ fun to walk around and say hi to people.

Matt Tomasulo

Warnick found that there was something about being on foot or on a bike that makes us explorers of where we live. Walking and biking in her town helped her develop an intimacy with the town that made her find the hidden gems and appreciate where she was.

She also believes that anyone, in any town, could have the same experience.

What about you?

Can you make a change in your routines to walk more in your neighborhood, and maybe even in your town?

Go ahead and try it.

You will be surprised by what you learn.


I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book. Sign up for the newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. It’s all PURE GOLD.

The Irresistible Lure of the American Front Porch

If you want to build community and attachment to where you live, scientists and neighbors agree: a front porch is just the ticket. (Melody Warnick)

After more than a hundred years of inordinate fondness, Americans at the middle of the twentieth century discarded the porch as old-fashioned, obsolete, and valueless – until a blend of conservation and revival began to restore it to a place of honor and utility. The porch will never be what it once was, but neither will it vanish. Instead, after 150 years of yawing from ubiquity to rejection, the porch will hold its place as a standard element of domestic American architecture, and we will all be the better for that.

Michael Dolan

During the last decades of the Twentieth Century, outdoor life shifted away from the fronts of the houses. Before WW II, even fairly humble houses had front porches where people spent part of their free time. Upper-middle-class houses frequently had side porches. In the half-century after the war, family leisure gravitated to back yards,  which are now routinely equipped with decks or patios. In other words, private areas behind the houses have been upgraded, while public areas facing the streets and sidewalks have surrendered much of their social importance.

Philip Langdon

We thought that the point of requiring porches on the fronts of houses was for environmental reasons – to cool the air doing into the house. We realized after the houses were up that everybody saw the social component of the porch – it status as the important in-between space separating the pubic realm from the private realm.

Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk

People like the image of a porch; it takes them back to simplicity, it conjures up the symbol of ‘I want to go there,’ and the porch takes them there.

Niedra North

For author Michael Dolan, if an American porch is really to be an American porch, it has to have some Americans on it. Latter-day porches often honor that principle in the breach. Instead of serving as community-oriented  centers of conviviality and welcome, these porches stand, with their perfectly-placed rockers and adroitly-arranged tchotchkes, as illustrations of the hospitality folks would extend if only they weren’t so busy being busy, and if only being sociable didn’t intrude so much on their private lives.

He believes that if more houses had porches more people will have the chance to sit on them.

It that were the case, he continued, in time, as it had been for him with his older neighbors when he moved to the neighborhood, the first names would come, and then the friendships – and if not friendship, then neighborhood cordiality, that pleasant state in which you and the guy next door know one another well enough to say hello from the porch or to invite one another up to sit in a rocker or the glider.

Bringing Hospitality Back to Your Porch

Simply put, the front porch is too good an idea to be allowed to slip away, even if the hospitality we display is more theoretical than real.

– Michael Dolan

The good ol’ American front porch seems to stand for positivity and openness; a platform from which to welcome or wave farewell; a place where things of significance could happen. 

– Dan Stevens

Make your front porch a part of your home, and it will make you a part of the world. 

– John Sarris

My porch represents what I want my house to be: sheltering and communal, private and welcoming, a quiet vantage point from which to greet the whole world.

– Melody Warnick

Inspired by these books:

The American Porch, by Michael Dolan

This Is Where You Belong, by Melody Warnick

A Better Place to Live, by Philip Langdon


I can’t emphasize this enough: If you like the idea of loving where you live, of being a better neighbor, or anything remotely connected, you MUST check out the work of Melody Warnick. Follow her on social media. Buy the book (above). Sign up for her newsletter on her website. Peruse the website for other articles she has written. What Warnick writes about will inspire you to embrace your own community – and perhaps discover that the place where you live right now . . . is home.

How Have You Been Celebrating National Library Week?

Happy National Library Week! This week, April 3rd through 9th, has been National Library Week.

Here’s my library:

That’s the North County Regional branch of the Charlotte Mecklenburg library.

It’s also my weekly destination for dropping off and picking up books I’ve placed on hold throughout the week.

Visiting the local library is a long-standing tradition with me. As a small boy, I remember with fondness the bi-monthly visits to the branch library in the next county. We were limited to checking out 20 books at a time, and it was a rare week when I didn’t meet that quota.

As soon as the car pulled in the driveway, I would race into our house and begin reading through my treasure trove of books.

In my early years, I would often have them all read in a matter of days. As I got older and the books got longer, it might take the whole two-week period to read them.

Then there’s school libraries, from middle school to high school to college to graduate school. More treasures of a deeper and longer-lasting sort.

When our children came along, I introduced them to the joy of reading and the local library. In each city we’ve lived in, one of the very first visits we made after moving was to stop by the library and pick up a library card. Since our four children were born four years apart, that’s a long time of library visits!

I’m proud to say that as they have grown up, and with children of their own, reading and visiting the library is still important in their lives. And of course, any grandchild visiting Nina and GrandBob is going to have a selection of the latest age-appropriate books from our library waiting!

Whether you visit in person or virtually, the library can help you access the resources and services you need. Libraries have been adapting to our changing world by expanding their resources and services. Through access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programs, libraries offer opportunities for everyone to explore new worlds and become their best selves.

You may or may not be in the habit of reading, and of utilizing your local library for research, pleasure reading, or other uses.

If you are, I know you are grateful for everything you find there.

If you are not, you are missing out on a vast, free resource. Don’t let another day go by until you “check it out.”

How Could Anyone Ever Know That Something Is Good Before It Exists?

From author John McPhee’s encouraging words to his daughter when she was frustrated at a senior high writing assignment:
“Blurt it out, heave out, babble something out – anything – as a first draft.
With that, you have achieved a sort of nucleus.
Then, as you work it over and alter it, you begin to shape sentences that score higher with the eye and ear. The chances are that about now you’ll be seeing something that you are sort of eager for others to see.
And all that takes time.”


“You finish that first awful blurting, and then you put the thing aside. You get in the car and drive home. On the way, your mind is still knitting at the words. You think of a better way to say something, a good phrase to correct a certain problem.
Without the drafted version – if it did not exist – you obviously would not be thinking of things that would improve it.
Your mind, in one way or another, is working on it twenty-four hours a day – but only if some sort of draft or earlier version already exists.
Until it exists, writing has not really begun.”

John McPhee, Draft No. 4 On the Writing Process

How to Help Math-Lovers (and Math-Haters) Translate the Numbers That Animate Our World

We live in a world in which our success often depends on our ability to make numbers count.

There are some authors from which I will preorder their book without question. They demonstrate the rare ability to communicate concepts with ease, giving the reader just enough information to satisfy without being overly verbose. They present an intriguing concept, provide in-depth information, and make you wonder, “That’s simply brilliant.” And better yet, they provide solid application – ways to help you translate information into action.

Chip Heath is one of those.

Along with co-author Karla Starr, Heath’s new book Making Numbers Count arrived on my porch yesterday, and I eagerly consumed it overnight.

We lose information when we don’t translate numbers into instinctive human experiences.

Chip Heath & Karla Starr, Making Numbers Count

The subtitle, “The Art of Science of Communicating Numbers” is well-stated. Using four broad categories, the authors proceed to capture readers with stories, examples, and applications of how important numbers are in our everyday lives, and more importantly, how we can use them to communicate clearly to our audience – whether our family or organization-wide.

The categories are:

  • Translate everything, favor user-friendly numbers
  • To help people grasp your numbers, ground them in the familiar, concrete, and human scale
  • Use emotional numbers – surprising and meaningful – to move people to think and act differently
  • Build a scale model

In typical fashion, Heath provides footnotes that satisfy the curious and enough endnotes (31 pages!) to make even the most avid researcher approve.


How much bigger is a billion than a million?

Well, a million seconds is twelve days. A billion seconds is…thirty-two years.

Understanding numbers is essential—but humans aren’t built to understand them. Until very recently, most languages had no words for numbers greater than five—anything from six to infinity was known as “lots.” While the numbers in our world have gotten increasingly complex, our brains are stuck in the past. How can we translate millions and billions and milliseconds and nanometers into things we can comprehend and use?

Author Chip Heath has excelled at teaching others about making ideas stick and here, in Making Numbers Count, he outlines specific principles that reveal how to translate a number into our brain’s language. This book is filled with examples of extreme number makeovers, vivid before-and-after examples that take a dry number and present it in a way that people click in and say “Wow, now I get it!”

You will learn principles such as:

SIMPLE PERSPECTIVE CUES: researchers at Microsoft found that adding one simple comparison sentence doubled how accurately users estimated statistics like population and area of countries.
VIVIDNESS: get perspective on the size of a nucleus by imagining a bee in a cathedral, or a pea in a racetrack, which are easier to envision than “1/100,000th of the size of an atom.”
CONVERT TO A PROCESS: capitalize on our intuitive sense of time (5 gigabytes of music storage turns into “2 months of commutes, without repeating a song”).
EMOTIONAL MEASURING STICKS: frame the number in a way that people already care about (“that medical protocol would save twice as many women as curing breast cancer”).

Whether you’re interested in global problems like climate change, running a tech firm or a farm, or just explaining how many Cokes you’d have to drink if you burned calories like a hummingbird, this book will help math-lovers and math-haters alike translate the numbers that animate our world—allowing us to bring more data, more naturally, into decisions in our schools, our workplaces, and our society.

A clear, practical, first-of-its-kind guide to communicating and understanding numbers and data—from bestselling business author Chip Heath.


We believe in numbers not as background, not as decorations, but as central points, with profound stories to tell. We believe in numbers, deeply. We believe in making them count.

Chip Heath & Karla Starr


Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “My Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.

It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.

The Unseen Value of Precision in Your Life

The phenomenon of precision, like oxygen or the English language, is something we take for granted, is largely unseen, can seldom be fully imagined, and is rarely properly discussed. Yet it is always there, an essential aspect of modernity that makes the modern possible.

Simon Winchester

According to author Simon Winchester, humankind has for most of its civilized existence been in the habit of measuring things:

  • How far from this river to that hill?
  • How tall is this man, that cow?
  • How much milk shall I barter?
  • What weight is that cow?
  • How much length of cloth is required?
  • How long has elapsed since the sun rose this morning?
  • And what is the time right now?

All of it depends to some extent on measurement, and in the very earliest days of social organization a clear indication of advancement and sophistication was the degree to which systems of measurement had been established, codified, agreed to, and employed.

The later development of precision demanded not so much a range of exotically named units of measure, but trusted standards against which these lengths and weights and volumes and time and speeds, in whatever units they happened to be designated, could be measured.


In The PerfectionistsNew York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester traces the development of technology from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age to explore the single component crucial to advancement – precision – in a superb history that is both an homage and a warning for our future.

The rise of manufacturing could not have happened without an attention to precision. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in eighteenth-century England, standards of measurement were established, giving way to the development of machine tools – machines that make machines. Eventually, the application of precision tools and methods resulted in the creation and mass production of items from guns and glass to mirrors, lenses, and cameras – and eventually gave way to further breakthroughs, including gene splicing, microchips, and the Hadron Collider.

Winchester takes us back to origins of the Industrial Age, to England where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. It was Thomas Jefferson who later exported their discoveries to the fledgling United States, setting the nation on its course to become a manufacturing titan. Winchester moves forward through time, to today’s cutting-edge developments occurring around the world, from America to Western Europe to Asia.

As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?


As is the typical week, I have several books in process at once – and a couple of them happen to be works by Simon Winchester. I’ll be talking more about them in future, but when this one came in on my library hold list, I had to get to it immediately.

When the book is entitled The Perfectionist, and the chapters are delineated by the measurements of the stories they contain (from .1 inch to 10 to the -28th gram), you know it is not only going to be a fascinating read, but one that explains our world, and our future, in unique ways.

Like me, Winchester is not an engineer – and that’s probably why this curious history of a common word not commonly thought of is a great read.


Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “My Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.

It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.

Why Most Successful Leaders Practice Design Thinking

Because design thinking is actually a systematic approach to problem solving.

Find a leader who is innovative in any organization, and he has likely been practicing design thinking all along. It starts with the people we serve and the ability to create a better future for them. It acknowledges that we probably won’t get that right the first time. It does not require super powers.

It’s time for Design Thinking in your organization.

Design thinking can do for organic growth and innovation what TQM did for quality – take something we always have cared about and put tools and processes into the hands of leaders to make it happen.

Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie, Designing for Growth

Design Thinking isn’t just choosing the right images and fonts for your next website revision. It’s not about renovating the physical spaces of your organization.

In the old days, designers and design thinking were an afterthought, the people and process at the end of the production. Engineers would hand over something that was functionally effective and have the designers make it look good. Those days are over.

Today, design is about experiences as well as products. It’s about services as much as it is hard goods.

It’s a problem-solving process that incorporates the needs of “customers,” team members, and partners in your organization’s mission. It’s a way of working that creates and refines real-world situations.

The Design Thinking Toolbox explains the most important tools and methods to put Design Thinking into action. Based on the largest international survey on the use of design thinking, the most popular methods are described in four pages each by an expert from the global Design Thinking community.

If you are involved in innovation, leadership, or design, these are tools you need. Simple instructions, expert tips, templates, and images help you implement each tool or method.

  • Quickly and comprehensively familiarize yourself with the best design thinking tools
  • Select the appropriate warm-ups, tools, and methods
  • Explore new avenues of thinking
  • Plan the agenda for different design thinking workshops
  • Get practical application tips

The Design Thinking Toolbox will help innovators master the early stages of the innovation process.

What challenge are you facing today that could use the discipline of Design Thinking?


Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “My Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.

It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.

Are You REALLY Listening, or Just Waiting to Talk?

How many people do you know that approach a conversation as if it were a competition, going something like this: When I pause, you jump in with your thoughts; when you pause, I jump back in so I can top your story or hijack the conversation back to my side.

It’s a fight for control.

Your conversations will be smoother and more successful if you remember that every sentence in a conversation has a history, and you have to practice deliberate listening skills to understand that history better so you can understand the person behind it better.

There’s another way to look at it. The human brain can process somewhere between 350 and 550 words a minute, while most people usually only speak around 120 words a minute. In virtually every exchange of communication, each participating brain has room for 230-375 extra words’ worth of thought to float around. That gives our minds plenty of chance to drift and wander, whether we’re the one speaking or listening.

It’s so easy to slide into the basic communication pitfall of drifting away from the person speaking, often thinking about what we’re going to say next rather than being focused on what we’re communicating or what’s being said to us.

It’s time to challenge your brain to stay in the moment, to be fully present in listening to a conversation, not just preparing how you’re going to respond.

It’s called active listening.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Good Talk by Daniel Stillman

Leadership is the art of designing transformative conversations.

Real change is needed, now, more than ever. This change can’t happen through force, edict or persuasion. The future will be built through conversation – and Good Talk will show you how.

Good Talk is a step-by-step framework to effect change in your personal and professional conversations. With dozens of tools and interactive components, Good Talk is a handbook to navigate the conversations that matter.

What’s Inside:

  • How to see the structure of conversations. Life is built one messy, slippery conversation at a time. While conversations feel hard to hold onto, ebbing and flowing, back and forth and into eventual silence, they each have a structure. The first step to changing your conversations is seeing what’s going on between the silence.
  • What is your Conversation Operating System? Who gets invited to the conversation? Who speaks first? Where does the conversation take place? What happens if someone messes up? In every conversation, there are elements that guide the exchange. The nine elements of the Conversation OS Canvas can help you to shift the direction of your conversations.
  • What is your conversational range? Conversations are more than dialogue. From the conversations in your head to the complex conversation that is your organization, you need to design conversations that matter across a huge range of sizes. Learn to master conversations from the boardroom and beyond.
  • How to design conversations that matter. The world needs fresh, creative conversations that are alive, and that work for all the people involved. How can you design conversations that matter? Leadership means designing the conditions for these conversations to happen. Learn the patterns and principles to make change possible.


A SIMPLE SOLUTION 

According to author Daniel Stillman, when two people are in a conversation, we take turns listening and speaking. 

What do we do with our turns?

Do you listen, or do you just wait to talk? 

Or do you take the role of listener seriously and enjoy your turn as the listener?

In conversation, we “see” speaking, whereas listening looks like “doing nothing.”

How often in conversations have you interrupted (intentionally or accidentally) the conversation, derailing the other person’s train of thought?

In your eagerness to move the conversation forward, to take your turn, you’ve stopped their turn too soon.

When two people are in a conversation, we take turns speaking and listening. Understanding your “turn-taking” patterns can dramatically shift your conversations for the better.

Daniel Stillman

Conversations can look like a sloshing sea of opinions and arguments, but there’s a pattern underlaying the seeming chaos. There are only a few distinct “moves” we can make inside a conversation, diagrammed below.

Are you someone tho prefers to take a turn? Or do you tend to wait and see which way the wind blows? The former is an “initiator” (at the base of the diamond); the latter is someone who “holds” space at waits (at the center).

Once someone has opened their mouth and opened the floor, what happens next? Some of us tend to immediately react, either positively or negatively (at the apex of the diagram). In both reactions, that move is fairly habitual. I’m sure you know someone who always has something nice to say about everything, or maybe you hang out with people who always focus on the negative.

The default reaction of listening deeply before expressing an opinion is a “reflective” response, seen on the right side of the diagram. This individual peels back layers of meaning before adding their own.

The fifth option could be to reframe the conversation. Reframing can look like “glass half full” thinking, or shifting problems into opportunities. Reframing can powerfully shift a conversation, or feel like an unwelcome erasure of a real issue on the table.

Each of these five “moves” steers the ship of the conversation.

Daniel Stillman, Good Talk

A NEXT STEP

Use the following “active listening script” from author Daniel Stillman to frame how you can deepen your connection with people.

  1. Paraphrase what you just heard the person say in neutral terms. Start with the phrase, “I’m hearing you say…” You can also use the phrase, “Okay, wait…” to give yourself a second to get centered.
  2. Confirm your summary, asking, “Is that right?” Or “Did I get that?”
  3. If they say yes; ask, “Is there anything I missed?” Go deeper.
  4. Wait. Count to three. If they confirm that there’s more, they’ll say more. If they indicate that you got it wrong, they will correct you if you give them time.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat. Try step 1 again, or continue with normal turn-taking if you feel comfortable doing so.

Part of a regular series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

During my elementary school years one of the things I looked forward to the most was the delivery of “My Weekly Reader,” a weekly educational magazine designed for children and containing news-based, current events.

It became a regular part of my love for reading, and helped develop my curiosity about the world around us.