Tuesday, April 26, 2005


from Fast Company

What has the good professor learned so far? The new economy doesn't need more talk -- it needs a whole new conversation. Zeldin believes that most of us are working in jobs that make use of only 20% to 25% of our potential. So companies, he argues, need to be reinvented to allow us to do work that we will find enjoyable, and that will make us better people

We should abolish "work." By that I mean abolishing the distinction between work and leisure, one of the greatest mistakes of the last century, one that enables employers to keep workers in lousy jobs by granting them some leisure time. We should strive to be employed in such a way that we don't realize that what we're doing is work.

Contact Theodore Zeldin by email (theodore.zeldin@sant.ox.ac.uk).

It's good to talk, says Oxford professor Theodore Zeldin, the author of Conversation (HiddenSpring Books, 2000). But engaging in world-changing dialogue involves more than sending and receiving information. The "new conversation" demands that you start with a willingness to emerge a slightly different person. Results cannot be predicted, but adventure is guaranteed. Here are a few of Zeldin's tips on talking.

Get out more. "Asking the same old question, 'Who am I?', cannot get you very far. However fascinating you may think you are, there is a limit to what you can know about yourself. Other people are infinitely more interesting and have infinitely more to say."

Think ahead. "Talk without thought is empty. Change the way you think, and you are already halfway to changing the world."

Be bold. "We need to start using conversation to create courage in the face of failure. I'm talking about a balanced kind of courage that can resist disappointment and that can at last make us immune to the cynicism that has so long been our scourge."

Talk with purpose. "The main purpose of engaging in conversation can no longer be personal advancement or respectability. Instead, I'd like for us to use conversations to create equality, to open ourselves to strangers, and, most practically, to remake our working world."

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