Chapter 8

Talk It: Controlled Conversations and TALC Tracks

Long story, short. To be brief means to avoid endless monologues and to start having controlled conversations with a rhythm, a purpose, and a point.

Some people think that brevity means killing off conversations altogether. This is neither true nor my intention in writing this book.

In fact, just the opposite is true. Real brevity invites and encourages really good, meaningful, controlled conversations. By that, I mean two people talking willingly—and enjoying it—but not feeling the conversation has to last forever to be worthwhile.

A controlled conversation is a disciplined conversation. What you're talking about matters to the person you're talking to, and your active listening tells you what matters to that person. You have the other person's interest and assent.

Controlled conversations make you feel free to stop at any time and not risk alienating anybody or feeling awkward. One example is talking to people on airplanes.

Risky Business Trip

When I travel, I frequently start conversations with people on flights and have terrific—and always brief—conversations with them that are both engaging and don't last the entire trip. However, this is a nightmare scenario for many people, especially on longer flights where you are a captive audience, and especially if you are seated (trapped, in fact) in a window seat.

What's my trick? Active listening. For a trip to Spain, here's what it might sound like:

“So why are you going ...

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