Is a Great Conversation Really that Hard to Create?

In a Leadership Journal article, John Ortberg describes a powerful ‘experimental group’ of
friends who have followed these rules (see: Higher Stakes Friendship).  Here are the basic
rules he mentions:

  • We can ask anything, no holds barred.
  • if you answer, you must tell the truth, as much as you know it.
  • if you don’t answer, you must say why you won’t or can’t answer.
  • Everything that is said to each other will be held in absolute confidence.
  • We will make absolutely no judgments of each other.

While I see this as helpful, there is still a little “wink-wink” going on because humans
are still humans (for example, they certainly do make judgments, though they may not
share them openly).

And yet, the aim is TRUTH, which as Glaen points out, is the ‘life-blood of relationships’.
Cheers to John Ortberg!


Another way to go is NC (No Control) Relating.  This is Glaen’s emphasis on having no
agenda in a conversation.  It works like this:

  • Set a time frame to meet talk
  • Meet
  • Agree to allow conversion about anything (or nothing)
  • Allow it go go anywhere (or nowhere)
  • Specifically, don’t have something to accomplish
  • Stop when the time’s up

Actually, this is why those happenstance conversations travelling are so cool…no agenda,
with nothing on the line!

It’s especially awesome with kids.  Go to coffee or icecream and tell them that they can
ask / talk about anything (or nothing).  Usually this kind of conversation will blow you away!
The reason?  Well, it’s just naturally honest!


Fred Lybrand

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