Skip to main content

Conversations can seem like the simplest of things yet in reality they are such an indicator of so much more. I receive this wonderful newsletter, Admired Leadership-Field Notes. It is truly inspirational in the world of leadership. However, at times, their messages are universal. Today’s conversation had me thinking of so many things.

The fact that it came after an in-depth conversation with a client over her inabilities to understand all the dynamics that take place in one “simple” relationship caused it to hit home. Have you ever had a conversation and heard later that what you said had absolutely nothing to do with what they heard? 

In my last book, Real Women Change the World: Letting the Good Girl Die so the Real Woman Can Live, I have a whole chapter on communication. Points I covered are — saying in 500 words what can be said in 10. Whining rather than speaking, blaming rather than questioning, and so on. It is so important to know that people hear your tone far more than your words. People read your face far more than your message. Consistently, speaking with respect to a peer (which is pretty much everyone on the planet) works far more than speaking down to or tolerating someone you consider less intelligent, developed, or awakened. 

Three Categories Of Conversations

Just to make it an even more analytical conversation here, how the newsletter described it was that conversations fit into three categories: 1) problem solving &/or logistics, 2) needing emotional validation or 3) social connection. Intuitively I must have known this because I have no idea when it began but when I call close girlfriends, or they call me, we inevitably say something along the lines of “Hi Honey, I want your thoughts on something.” “Hi, honey I’m not doing well…”  or “Hey, I was thinking of you and just wanted to chat. How’s it going?”

For business calls that are not planned ahead of time, I may ask “Do you have 10 minutes to discuss an issue that has come up?” or “…an idea I just had on something we talked about earlier.”  When someone calls me, I will easily say “I have 5, 10, minutes (whatever the truth is) how can I help?” Immediately they know what the timeline is. More importantly, we each know why the call is being made and what the parameters are. 

Think of the number of times you have started a conversation with someone that goes in the oddest of directions – you simply wanted to check in and they created a 30-minute conversation. Or you had a serious conversation in mind and somehow you ended up covering every topic under the sun and in the last 3 minutes you try to bring up the real reason for the call, frustrated at the little bit of time left to discuss it. If only they knew up front what the call was about….

These conversations are the simplest of things yet when we are not clear in our communication so many things can go awry. Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness may be required skills but boy are they worth it when it comes to conversations. My wish is that every conversation I have leaves the other feeling seen and valued regardless of the duration, topic, or result. That very much puts some responsibility on me to be able to meet them where they are as well as accept where I am coming from. Neither needs to be the opposition, it simply requires I know what is up so I can respond to both of us as needed. That’s a great conversation….


Dr. Dorothy’s life story of coming from an orphanage, being raised in the housing projects of South Boston, becoming a Catholic nun, an international airline stewardess, a wife, mother, graduate faculty member, Clinical Instructor at a Medical School, and so much more provides the perfect backdrop for her message of joy, humor, passion and faith as the necessary tools for life.