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Ideo Managing Director Fred Dust On The Lost Art Of Conversation

We’ve forgotten how to talk to one another. Here’s how to fix that.

Ideo Managing Director Fred Dust On The Lost Art Of Conversation
[Photo: Jessie English; Set designer: Wunderkind; Grooming: Kay Louro]
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Despite technological advances, our ability to communicate meaningfully is deteriorating, says Fred Dust, a partner at creative consultancy Ideo. The remedy, he believes, lies in finding ways to restore real conversation to our daily lives.

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Sit Face-to-Face

Real conversation, Dust believes, died with the invention of the television—more specifically, the TV dinner, in 1953. “That was the moment where we invited technology to our dining-room table,” he says. Being talked at through a metal box, instead of talking among ourselves, eroded our capacity for empathy and true dialogue.

Engage Through Adversity

“The times when people are most open to change are when they are coming out of a crisis,” Dust says. “We are seeing crisis after crisis, with no time to have conversation. Talking can be curative and help us find a way forward.”

Study the Elements

Through its new Designing Dialogue project, Ideo is asking the public to submit examples of well-crafted personal exchanges—from culture, history, the corporate world, and everyday life. The idea is to explore “how we can take these historical precedents and apply them to new ways of thinking,” Dust says. “We believe you can design even the way we have conversations at our kitchen table—again.”

This story was adapted from the Fast Company Innovation Festival.

About the author

Eillie Anzilotti is an assistant editor for Fast Company's Ideas section, covering sustainability, social good, and alternative economies. Previously, she wrote for CityLab.

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