Soft skills for a hard world

Eddy Canfor-Dumas


January 2021

We’ve got a big problem, we human beings. Bigger than plastic in the oceans and toxins in the air, bigger even than climate change. It’s how we talk and listen to each other.

It’s the basis for everything we do – and will need to do – together. Yet so much of our communication washes around in a sea of confusion, conflict and dysfunction – at home, at work, in society and in the world.

‘That’s life,’ some will say. ‘It’s normal.’ But it needn’t be. We can do better. We have to do better. Because if we don’t improve things soon we could all be scuppered, as the challenges we face threaten to overwhelm us.

That’s why we need a revolution – a talking revolution. We need a massive, worldwide improvement in how we communicate. How we talk to each other. How we listen to each other. How we understand and are understood by each other.

Hardware, software, humanware - everywhere

We’ve had a revolution in the technology that connects us around the world, in the hardware and the software – now we need a revolution in the ‘humanware’, the quality of how we actually communicate with each other, one to one.

We need this talking revolution to happen everywhere – at the kitchen table and the conference table, in the boardroom and the bedroom, the classroom and the office; in the international community and the community centre; in the pub, in the street, on the bus, online, offline. Everywhere.

We also need it to involve everyone – young, old, male, female, rich, poor, straight, gay, able-bodied, disabled, black, white and every other shade too. Because everyone has the  potential to become a talking revolutionary and to benefit from better, stronger connections with other people.

And we need this talking revolution urgently. All around the world people are realising that we have to collaborate on an ever-increasing scale, at every level, if we’re to find common solutions to the challenges that face us nationally, regionally and globally.

To do that we urgently need a step-change in the quality of how we talk to and understand each other one-to-one. Just imagine the benefits that could flow at all levels – internationally, locally and domestically. Not just in the emotional pain that can be avoided by developing greater understanding and empathy between each other – huge though that would be in itself – but in the gains that could be generated in all areas of life. Imagine a world in which miscommunication and misunderstanding are minimised, and mutual understanding maximised.

A pipe-dream?

Your change changes everything

No – because most, if not all, misunderstanding is actually avoidable. And because you can become a talking revolutionary right now, in your very next conversation with the very next person you talk to. You are at the centre of your own, unique world, so when you decide to change, when you decide to engage with the people of your world differently, your world has to change in response – whatever the communication challenges you face.

And as you change your world for the better, so others in your world will be inspired to follow suit and the talking revolution will unfold around you, step-by step. The power is in your hands, our hands, all of us, singly and collectively.

Talking revolutionaries are ordinary people who consciously take it upon themselves to bring about a revolution in talking and listening in their own, unique environment – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, whatever – through developing the art of creative conversation. This is a distillation into seven essential elements of what we all do when we’re communicating at our best.

It’s absolutely free, totally doable, extraordinarily effective and easily learned – by anyone, by you – so that individually and together we can transform the personal, group and societal pains that plague us all.

(From The Talking Revolution: How creative conversation can change the world. If you want to find out more, get in touch.)

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