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Shift Happened. Shift's Happening. Shift Will Happen. But it's all about conversation.

It's already begun. 

We are part of it.  We can like it, or not.

Sometimes, we'll start a new topic and others will join us.  Other times we'll hear something good's going on and we'll join in.

That's conversation. 

I love conversation.  Making connections.  Learning new stuff.  Listening.  Asking questions. Explaining how something I've discovered might help someone else.    Changing my mind about things cos someone's helped me see them in a different light.

Usually our conversations start small.

Just you and me.  Then a friend joins in.

Sometimes we reach millions, when our idea gets passed from person to person, each starting their own conversation about our conversation.

We could start a movement where people give away everything they own to help others.  Our conversation might lead to a riot.  A revolution.  Or a night on the town.

Perhaps the conversations we start will change the world.

In a small way.  Or in a big way.

Shift Happens 2.0.

Earlier this week, I had a jolly nice couple of days with some smashing people at an event called Shift Happens 2.0.

It was in York in England and was put together by Marcus Romer and his team.   Marcus is the Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre, the award winning national touring company based at York Theatre Royal.

The above picture is Marcus and I doing what I love best - conversation.  We're chatting about the ideas everyone was exploring at Shift Happens 2.0, and how we can all be a part of, and shape, the big conversations spreading around our planet right now.

Once opon a time conversations were small, for all but a tiny number of powerful, well connected people.

The biggest gossip in the street could only spread stuff to a handful of neighbours.  I know they could pass it on to a few more but that was still small change compared to what we can do now.  All this amazing connectedness through digital gizmos means anyone who can get on to a computer really can have conversations with anyone else who can.

We no longer have to just sit and listen, be told what to read, watch, think or do.  We have choices and our conversations don't have to be small.  They have potential power to reshape a few things, or every thing.

We know things have changed.  Shift Happens.

What does "Shift Happens" mean?

"Shift Happens" could mean so many things.  For me, it's when big changes start in a situation, to a thing, to a person's behaviour, or in our ways of understanding the world.  Few would argue against the idea that massive, irreversible global changes have begun to accelerate, affecting every area of life.

But it's digital technology enabled conversation that will really allow each of us to play a part in changing the game.

Now, we all have the chance to get our thoughts and ideas out to anyone who wants to listen.  We can engage people.  Find support.  Help others.  Gather together and demand change.  Make things better. Or worse.

It's up to us.

The point is, conversation is all about people talking with each other.

At Shift Happens 2.0, the author Charlie Leadbeater, showed us that the emerging conversation is all about "thinking mutual".  In other words, to be better able to make things happen, to get to "can", then it's all about "with".

I'd say we can't have a conversation alone...unless we're just a little bit crazy.

Here are some ideas about "with" that will help us in our conversational adventures toward "can".

1)  The conversation's started.  People are already talking about us.

They're talking about how we care for our customers.  How we teach English classes in school.  They're discussing the way we bring up our kids.  How we treat our friends, our family, our staff and co-workers, our competitors.  We can't stop 'em talking.  They've always done it. But now they've got the potentially to reach a much wider audience, who may also join the conversation.  Shift Happens eh?

2)  Conversation that everyone can join and spread means bull-crap that used to cover up bad stuff no longer works.

If we treat people badly, they can tell our customers, clients, friends, future mother-in-law, boss.  No matter how good we think we are, if enough sources are saying we're crap, then perhaps the cap fits!  Companies and organsiations that say they are one thing, yet their actions toward others and the environment suggest they are another, will soon find the conversation reveals the latter.  Perhaps then they'll be forced to change cos Shift Happens.

Likewise, if enough sources are saying we're good....well, ya get the idea.

3)  Listening's a great place to start.

When people see who we are and we hear what they think of us we might get a shock.  But if we're OK with who we are then conversation's a great way to help change people's less than good thoughts about us.  Gary Vaynerchuk at Wine Library TV is the master at listening to conversations about his business and personal impact.  He then talks to people to address any criticisms.  He almost always turns them round, and many become fans.

4)  If we care enough to listen to people we will soon be listened to.

Dale Carnegie, author of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" said, "It's much easier to become interested in others than it is to convince them to be interested in you".  For most of us, that's almost always true, and it's not gonna change.  Let's not try to do things the wrong way round.  Listen.  Care.  Show interest first.

5)  The most exciting part of these conversations though is what they can do for us and for others to make life better.

Shift Happens 2.0 helped us see all kinds of ways we can work together to cut through the rubbish, start conversations that matter, and help others do the same.  Remember, when our conversation is focused on "thinking mutual", the "with" will soon lead to the "can".

Shift Happened.  Shift's Happening.  Shift Will Happen.  The conversation's already started.  Who do we want to talk with and where shall we take each other?

I'd love to know if you find these ideas helpful, and if you have tips for starting conversation and connecting.  Hope to see you in the comments.

Your comments:

Kaye says:
06/07/2009 16:10:11

I am loving being part of this connectedness. I have never enjoyed networking in the traditioal sense - always felt a bit contrived and 'pushy' - but twitter has enabled me to feel connected to people I admire, who I like, that I find funny and interesting, in an unobtrusive way, and I feel 'pulled' into conversations, and welcomed. Not only that, but I feel more inclined to network (in person) since feeling this connection with others:-) As for tips for starting conversations - I think you're article hits the nail on the head. If we are comfortable with who we are, then we are going to naturally be authentic and coming from a place of good intent when we converse. And that, in my opinion, is what counts. Cheers, Ian - and love your tweets! @ThisisKaye


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  • Ian AspinLocation: Lancaster Lake District, UK
  • Bio: I’m passionate about my work:TV journalist, producer, presenter, business ideas person. I care about: family, friends, helping people, finding meaning, running