So, what word is applicable when two people, after their handshakes, sit next to each other, stir their coffee, exchange some first words to get comfortable with each other and the circumstances, before the real conversation begins? Do we call this ‘to encounter’? Or ‘to meet’? Perhaps ‘to get acquainted’? Sometimes we refer to this activity as ‘to say hello’. Which of these words best reflect such a situation?
The philosopher Martin Buber said “All actual life is to encounter.” The social constructionist Ken Gergen says: “In the beginning is the relationship.” Before the conversation can start, we have to build a relationship. Then we produce better conversations. You probably knew this already.
In Dutch, we describe this ‘comforting acquaintance, aiming for getting to know each other’ with the verb ‘ontmoeten’. Literally translated into English, ‘ont-moeten’ means ‘un-must’. How’s that?
What would a conversation look like, when the factor ‘must’ has been excluded?
How are you going to ‘un-must’ the other, the next time you are rushing into a meeting?
You’ve just read one of the 110 chapters of my book Appreciative Inquiries of the 3.0 Kind. Find out more (and a special pre-ordering offer) on www.appreciativeinquiries.eu.