The ANTI Series: The Art of Conversation

Quote of the day: ‘Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue.’- Unknown

Hey guys!

Hope you enjoyed the Tony Robbins inspired session from two weeks ago.

Understanding the things that actually drive your behaviour a crucial to learning about yourself and that talk really blessed me. If you missed it, check it out here.

This week, continuing this ‘ANTI’ series which really about shed light on behaviours and perspectives which are so easily misunderstood or forgotten amongst us. Today, I want to talk about the art of conversation.

In a world where we are so disillusioned with social media based relationships where you are more honest with your fingers than you are with your mouth, I think it is completely counter cultural to pause, sit down and have an honest and open conversation.

Over the past two weeks, my life has been FULL of these and I have gained such perspective- it has been mind blowing.

Now guys, I’m sure some of you are thinking ‘oh but I talk all the time’. Yes that’s true, but there is a difference between talking about others, and actually sharing your thoughts, perspectives and experiences.

There is a kind of conversation where you find that you have listened more than you have spoken. Where you realise that your response isn’t brewing in your mind as the other person is speaking. Where you are learning and understanding the other person more with every word. And perhaps most importantly where you are humble and open to having your perspective enlarged or even changed by genuinely receiving the perspective of the person you are so blessed to be in conversation with.

I do not think we talk enough, and that is why when we actually do begin to speak, we find that we just cannot stop.

If you follow me on snapchat you’ll probably wonder if I am running a small catering business because of just how much I cook and host people round my dinner table. As we discovered last week a key human need is the need for connection and my dinner table is just where I get it. I love to sit and have long and deep conversations with people. With the right combination of food, wine and a great gang of people, you can really learn a lot! One thing I’ve found I do is I pour in a lot of love into the details of my dinners even if they are last minute (they almost always are) because it is all part of setting the atmosphere for connection. So guys this is going to be one of those vulnerable (and perhaps lengthy) posts where I actually share some detail on a couple of dinners I have had which have really raised my perspective.

  1. The ‘I haven’t seen you in a while catch up’

So this weekend, I sat with two of my oldest friends, armed with a slow cooked lemon and herb chicken and an amazing garden salad plus two (cough cough or more) bottles of wine, we sat down at my dinner table and had an amazing conversation. I listened. I learnt and honestly I grew. One of the incredibly interesting things we spoke about was this concept of faith. As some of you may know, I am Christian i.e. I believe in Jesus and everything that alludes to a real relationship with him. I came to this point of choosing this belief on my own 5 years ago and it has been a journey since. I sat at a table with two of my friends who have different beliefs from me and had the most impactful conversation on my faith that I have ever had. It was not always like this though. The last time I had a conversation with one of these same friends it ended in disaster and we hardly revisited it again. I think it actually caused a strain where both of us were feeling deeply judged by the other. Here we were though about 2 years after this incident and I had come to the table (literally) open and curious and humble. Sometihng amazing happened: as we talked, I saw my friend in a completely different way. I realised that actually at the core of it we will get along if we understand one another. She shared some beautiful experiences she had had with me on her own faith journey, I shared mine, my other friend shared his and we ended at this place of deep gratitude. For GOD and how we had all in our own way found faith and hope. For the conversation (of course the good food) and generally for life and the feeling of being awakened by heart stirring discussions. Were there things said I could have been defensive about? Absolutely. But that is not the focus. If the focus is to LISTEN you’ll always leave the conversation fuller.

  1. Dinner with a former Boss

So writing about this dinner is honestly really emotional for me. Speaking about Randy and how his encouragement and influence has built my confidence about this thing called seunawo.com is so central to the work I do it is crazy. Randy and I started this conversation 4 years ago when I was an intern at my current company. We grew to enjoy speaking with each other about life, travel, politics, ambitions, working etc. Just as seunawo.com was kicking off Randy retired from work and subscribed to my website. Every week he would email me the most encouraging responses. He invited me over to his cute cottage last week to have dinner with him and his lovely wife Michelle. It was an experience! They (like me) had put a lot of love into the dinner and had great wine as well. As I arrived and gave Randy a hug, I could feel the calm joy he exuded. Now maybe I need to give some context. This is an American guy who has DECADES of experience working in corporations. I have seen him get very intense in meetings and he is the kind of super smart boss you don’t want to mess up in front of. So I was surprised to arrive at his house and see him setting up the table, doing the cooking and serving whilst we chatted away to his amazing wife. Their home was a collection of art they accumulated through an exciting 30 something year long partnership. You could tell that retirement was treating them well and they were just having the best time! Randy told me that the Earn, Dream, Share model had inspired him to come up with his own formula for what success means to him now and I promised him I would share it: the 7 F’s!

Friends, Family, Food, Fun, Future, Finances and Fitness.

How amazing! Even at retirement Randy has a vision for himself, he has principles he has learnt and understood and is living a happy successful life. I think Michelle for sure has a lot to do with it! But the point is, it was an amazing time having conversations. Conversations that lead to new ways of thinking, greater insight into people and just better understanding. What a treat! I’ll share the first response I ever got from Randy below:

“Hi Seun- Ade forwarded your webpage to me as he saw relevance to my current journey into the best part of my life…..the next 35 years…

You are wiser than your years and your words resonate with me and my journey. 

I would enjoy elaborating on this with you (perhaps over coffee or dinner with Michele and I.

 Please include me on your mailing list so I can continue learning.’

I love his humility! This is someone 40 years my senior who is still open to learning and growing. This is what life is about. We can learn from anyone and the power of conversation is that it opens you up to being able to relate with anyone and learn from people whether you agree with them or not.

So guys! A challenge for you, over the next two weeks, intentionally find some time to connect with people through conversations. Talk about topics, and not people. Connect, LISTEN, grow, learn. We do not do enough of it! I know you will leave feeling refreshed and energised like I did!

Hope this will give you something to think about.

And thank you Rabi, Tokunboh, Michelle, Randy for amazing conversations.

All my love,

Seun

xoxoxox

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