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Talking To You Makes Me Smarter

By Andy Warren,

Today we have a guest editorial from Andy Warren.

Well, maybe it would be more accurate to say I learn a lot through conversations.  Maybe that’s obvious? In my experience it tends to be under-rated, people tend to equate learning with books or a class or a seminar. Certainly those are about learning, but even there the value is often as much from the small side bar conversations as it is the actual training.

Of course, it’s easy to see the potential value when you ask a question, focusing the conversation, or when someone asks you a question and you decide to engage with them.  Potential value yes, guaranteed value? No guarantees!

But what about conversations when you don’t know what will result, if anything? Are you willing to risk some of your time on those without anything close to a guaranteed return? I take this chance all the time and almost find that I’ve learned something or clarified something I already knew. Often it’s not technical; something about people, managing, life. Most often it happens in conversation that started without a goal in mind and just wandered, and then one of us said something that the other found interesting, and then things clicked.

Not all conversations are productive, and it’s up to you to steer them to a productive topic eventually, or to disengage. Sometimes you won’t get a return and to me, that’s ok. But more often you will, and I think you might be surprised at how it shapes you. Trying it just requires willingness to share, and a willingness to see that not all learning is structured. 

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