Intentionally slowing down the conversation

Slow down.

Why on earth would we do that? I hear our cultural voice exclaim as it defends the relentless pressure for speed, productivity and efficiency.

Have we somehow swallowed the idea that fast is always best? And that if something is taking too long, then it’s either weak and inferior, or it simply isn’t working. So move on.

As I decide which way to come down the steep hillside, I have several options here in the valley. Following the alpaca’s desire lines (the fastest route to the food trough from the top), or take the long way down on paths we have created for humans and tractors?

Yes, I can head down following my four-footed friends. Yet here’s the thing – I need to watch every single step I take because I don’t have ‘four-legged drive’. And I arrive at the bottom emotionally and mentally depleted because it is so steep, and I have to pay attention seriously.

And I miss the view.

I can’t focus on my immediate next step and notice the butterfly, the birds or the clouds. It’s too dangerous (and I’m still recovering from ankle damage earlier in the Spring).

So it is in life. And in conversation.

For those who had the opportunity to read Digby Scott’s lovely story of The old man on the plane yesterday, you’ll recognise this gentleman’s impact on the anxious lady in the next seat.

He closed his laptop and let the conversation gently unfold.

Showing someone that you see them is the greatest gift you can give.

Being seen also means being heard. And that enables us to use our voice to say the things that only we can express. Without which, the world is a poorer place.

Yet, this doesn’t only bear fruit in our interpersonal relationships.

There are far too many examples of decisions made in haste littering our lives and our shores.

As Fred Dust, former IDEO executive, suggests in Making Conversation, “… I’ve come to realise that purposefully designing slower dialogue may actually help us to solve big problems…”

Now there’s wisdom.

Unseize the day

Finally, a little gem from Gideon Heugh to wander with for a while:


Unseize the day;
release your grip
from the wrists of time.
Allow your plans
to drift away;
to live is to let go,
not to climb.

+ Gideon Heugh, from Rumours of Light, 2021