Getting to Yes, And

Fred Dust: Making Conversations


Fred Dust

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Kelly talks to former IDEO executive Fred Dust about his terrific new book Making Conversations.

One of the things you say in the book is that you have to be committed to the conversation you are having, what do you mean by that?

“Let's bring it back to improv. So that's actually it if you think about it. You commit to the people who you're going to be doing the improv with and you basically are there to support the people first, not the idea. You're not there to be the hero, the comic heroine. You're there to be supportive and that should feel very comfortable for you.” 

You talk about reframing our difficult conversations and center them on our points of connection as fellow human beings.

“I believe that when we focus so much on our differences then we really miss this fundamental ability to have deeper conversations. Kelly, I'll just give you a sense from where I sit. I'm in a rural county that votes differently than I do. My neighbors vote differently than I do. And yet, my neighbor is also an EMT, and when he gets redeployed back in the city, which he will be at some point, I am going to be texting him every day to make sure he's okay. All right, because I don't really care how you voted, I care that you stay alive.”

It’s interesting that in a book about making conversation, you focus on the silence that happens at a Quaker meeting.

“One of the worst things you can do in improv is just kind of listen in complete silence. What's interesting about the listening in a Quaker meeting is that you start in complete silence for about the first half hour. And then when you listen to somebody else, giving testimony and testifying, you basically witness them and you do that in silence. But here's what you're doing, though, is you're listening to them. And you're listening to your own inner dialogue and kind of trying to understand how those things are matching up. It’s a totally different kind of listening.

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