I’ve been reflecting a lot on how divisive the world is today. Many are at odds about how covid should be handled, and political and social upheaval are driving important issues into the spotlight. 

There’s been a push for having ‘conversations’. But for me that’s not enough. It’s a term that’s been overworked. By definition, a conversation is an exchange. But right now, this word needs a break. ‘Conversation’ has a breeziness to it that doesn’t fit the weight of what’s going on within it. 

Whether online or in person, instead of asking: ‘join the conversation’, let’s have a real discussion. ‘Discussion’ has a lot more substance. "we had a conversation about flex work policies" vs. "we had a discussion about flex work policies".

Looking at the origins of these words, we see the competition between "keeping company with" in conversation and "moving, exciting, and affecting" in discussion. 

We can start by doing our best to actively listen to others - and not wait for our turn to defend our point. Whether it’s someone we know well or not, it’s important to do our best to understand their point of view - even when we don’t agree. I believe this is the first step to bridging differences, and hopefully bringing someone around to your own way of thinking.

#inthistogether #newways #softskills

about the author

Jacques van den Broek

ceo and chair of the executive board

Randstad's Global CEO, leading our mission of supporting people and organizations in realizing their true potential.