Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What's Good?

We had a conference call last week to discuss our plans for the Bigger Small Talk Summit and Suzanne Whang from HGTV's House Hunters was kind enough to grace us with her presence and her great ideas and perspective, which really helped me get some ideas for how we can get this thing off the ground.

One way Suzanne suggested we immediately raise the small talk in our lives is to get beyond our traditional greetings - especially "How Are You" by asking instead, "What's Good?" She pointed out that first of all that will throw people off because they're not expecting it - and secondly it will show you immediately where people are in their own mindsets. If they can't think of anything good to say, that will tell you something right there.

One of our other old standard greetings, besides "How Are You?" is "What's New?"

What's new? NOTHING! I was re-reading one of my favorite philosophers Emerson the other day and I was reminded of the wisdom he displayed in the mid-1800s:

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.
That still resonates with me today.

Here's another example from an idea that circled the internet a while back.
  • 1000 BC: Here, eat this root.
  • AD 1000: That root is heathen. Say this prayer.
  • AD 1800: That prayer is pure superstition. Here, take this potion.
  • AD 1940: That potion is snake oil. Here, take this pill.
  • AD 1980: That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
  • AD 2000: That antibiotic doesn’t work. Here, eat this root.
What goes around really does come around.

How will we stop this endless cycle? JUST STOP! Think something original - or at least original for you. It may not be the first time someone thought of it, but that's where collective wisdom comes from! Find others to talk about your ideas with. But don't just look for people who will agree with you. Come to the conversation with an open mind - bring your own personal POWER (Purpose, Open-Mindedness, Wisdom, Energy, Responsibility) - and see what you can create together.

I've heard it said that man plans and God laughs - so instead of planning what you're going to say, be open to whatever can be created in that open space.

What's Good in the world? EVERYTHING!


At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great stuff here. I've noticed that I've fallen back into an old habit of asking, "How are ya?" which usually gets the typical response of "Fine" or some variation along that line. Thanks for the kick in the backside, Jodee.

Another question that works for me is, "What's your story today?" Ahhh...a story. While it may not be altogether positive, it can open someone up to sharing their experience. The only catch is if you want to know someone's story, be prepared to listen...otherwise, you'll come through as false.

At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of how difficult it for some to stop the chatter. I don't think that old saw, "If you cannot improve the silence, don't speak" is quite so easy to apply in practice. We're the one that invented the term 'uncomfortable silence' remember.

For many of us it seems we'd rather have small talk than no talk at all. It's as though we've forgotten how to be quiet together, to just be still and yet enjoy that stillness at the same time.

And of course when we speak from stillness we speak this 'bigger small talk' but maybe what comes first is letting go of the embarrassment of not having anything particular to say... and remembering how to relax and enjoy just Being with one another.

And as for 'What's Good?'
Well, I'd have to name you Jodee. X

At 6:33 PM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

Chris & Nick: Thanks so much for sharing your collective wisdom here. You both (and each) always have so much good stuff to say - and help me see beyond the small talk myself.

I really like "what's your story" as another option for a bigger opening. You're right though, Chris - you do have to be prepared to hear what they have to say!

Nick: you're right, it has become a habit to fill up the silence with small talk. I find that I can learn so much when I just shut my mouth! Of course, you know I'm a big fan of Being - and am still working on that for myself. Being = stillness. Doing = small talk. Hmmm ... great distinction!

Thanks, guys, for adding to this dialogue!

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, another of the 2000 Bloggers here... the name of your blog got my attention, and I was interested in reading what you have to say.

My wife watches HGTV, and neither of us knew that Suzanne Whang had done so much. Amazing woman.

Your blog and mine focus on different things, but come to the same conclusion about life. The name of mine is 'It's all Good.'

(and all the Good Cats)

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...


I really like the name of your blog, too! I'm so glad you stopped by. I've really enjoyed corresponding with Suzanne ... I'm easily inspired because I have learned to see the good in everyone! I'm looking forward to reading your blog, too! Thanks!

At 8:59 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Being asked "Wassup" really irks me.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

Yes, Christine - that reminds me of that beer commercial a few years ago! Let's be more creative in our responses when we get the same old question! Thanks for stopping by!

At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kinda disagree with the comments. I find that sometimes when someone presents me with a 'different' greeting, it's less about connecting with me, and more about a strategy or technique, and can often feel to me inauthentic.

On the other hand, asking "How are you?" with real presence- meeting the other person's eye, and making contact, and sincerely asking the question, can elicit some very real responses.

I also think there is some politeness in social convention. Someone saying "Wassup?" as we pass each other is just a polite form of acknowledgement- the eye glance, the head nod, maybe a smile. It's just a friendly interaction, without the necessity of an actual exchange, which may or may not be appropriate for us as strangers who have our own trajectories of the moment.

It's true that by changing what you ask you may be giving yourself a signal to be more present, because it breaks your own routine, and that can be helpful.

But please don't try to shake me up with a strategy. Just meet me authentically with however you're feeling.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Scott D. McArthur said...

Given the "what's up itis" going on here I thought I'd offer a remedy. Turn this on its head and think about your answer. What I usually say is "Fantastic!" . This often gets a nice response and gets the chat moving.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Jodee Bock said...

Mark & Scott:

I so appreciate your individual takes here! Mark, I agree that any greeting that is sincere makes a huge difference in the world; maybe the challenge we see in the world is the seeming lack of sincerity in the greeting itself, which sometimes shows up as a "wassup" or a "how ya doing."

Scott: I, too, try to come up with a similar response to the traditional greeting, which does add to a new conversation. That's my passion - bigger small talk, however we can get there!

I hope you'll both consider taking a look at the Bigger Small Talk Summit in Fargo in June ... we'll be talking about big issues and moving to big action!

Thanks so much for your comments here!


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