Talk is Action

I’ve blogged before my concerns about the idea that action is superior to talk. I can understand people getting frustrated when conversations seem to loop in circles that don’t lead anywhere. And I get more impatient than most with pedantic over-academic discussions that seem to keep us stuck lobbing conversational grenades at each other.

But if we decry talk and demand action, I think we chuck out the baby with the bathwater. What might be more useful – if more challenging – is to discriminate between different kinds of talk. Some talk seems to go nowhere; other kinds of talk feel deeply connected to action.

Viv is fond of saying that talk IS action. That becomes clearer during action storming. We often use action storming for helping people practice new ways to hold difficult conversations. It shows how the impact of any given string of words is modulated massively by our physcial actions. We may think we are just saying something, but there’s always a physical performance. That element, that action, can be the difference between “stop” meaning “stop!” or meaning “I’m really scared of you” or “please carry right ahead”. Lots of times, a particpant will suggest a script idea with great confidence, only to see it go awry when they actually have to perform it.

So we get past the false dichotomy of talk vs action and into more rich and potentially powerful territory.

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