In a social and business landscape that applauds endeavors to build the bottom line of a corporation rather than build our character, where utilitarian outcomes are prized over human ones, we succumb to an always on, continually judged and never enough expectation of perpetual productivity. Oddly, we are often the cause of our own agitation and loss of serenity.

Consider these questions: Are you too busy and overwhelmed? Is your life out of balance? Are you growing? Do you feel disconnected? These and other questions seem to be a feature of our time. Why do we prioritize the wrong things? How do we rediscover our selves?

nypl.digitalcollections.b9b8db5c-24fe-0160-e040-e00a18064d4a.001.wInterventions in response to this angst frequently are mediated through either a program of executive or leadership coaching, psychotherapy, or re-evaluation of our spiritual frame of reference. I would proffer an alternative, however, in the form of authentic, simple conversation.

“Society and conversation, therefore, are the most powerful remedies for restoring the mind to its tranquility, if, at any time, it has unfortunately lost it,” suggests Adam Smith in his work The Theory of Moral Sentiments.

We discover who we are and develop our sense of self in relationship to others. Obtaining balance, clarity and personal development requires space to be completely present. Conversation allows people together to thickly and singularly occupy the moment and not be thinly, transiently present. Avoiding coaching techniques and the clinical interventions of psychology opens up the opportunity to be gardeners tending to the human spirit through authentic listening, the power of insightful questions and the exploration of personal narratives.

A conversational situation allows for a simple yet profound space for people to explore and nurture their own personal and professional lives. It enables us to dismantle the rigid emotional structures and narrow thinking that suffocate us in an outcomes-driven culture and replace that with perspectives that are open and imaginative.

What do you think? Have you ever found conversations to be uplifting? Have they been the tonic that you needed to restore your tranquility, to energize you or to enable your growth?