Talking About Ideas

Here’s the quote:

Great people talk about ideas. Average people talk about things. Small people talk about other people.

I don’t remember where I first heard it, but it’s stayed with me. I’ve seen it attributed to both Eleanor Roosevelt, with whom I am quite familiar,  and Tobias S. Gibson, with whom I am not familiar at all. I’ve also seen Fran Lebowitz’s take on the quote, which associates small people with wine.

Anyway, I think it’s a good quote. We all talk about other people sometimes, and we all talk about things sometimes, but the most important conversations are the ones we have about ideas.

And, a few days ago, the New York Times agreed.

According to the article, “human beings are driven to find and create meaning in their lives,” and having deep conversations helps us achieve that goal.  So, maybe a conversation ratio is in order: have one deep conversation for every exchange about your brother-in-law’s out-of-control spending or the new shoes you just bought. Sounds good to me. In fact, skip talking about the brother-in-law altogether and just tell about the shows twice. : )


8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Colleen said,

    When Jerry was little I found myself craving deep conversation. Now that he’s able to participate in those conversations I don’t feel quite as deprived of them. Still…I could always use more!

  2. 3

    Karen said,

    Loooove the deep conversations… we built a campfire last night and, when we weren’t talking about marshmallows, or swordplay, or (I admit it) wine, the chat got very deep. And not just with hubby but also with the nine-and-five-year-olds!

    I feel like those kinds of conversations are what help my boys make the big, deep decisions in their lives, like how to treat others and how to determine what’s really important. I think it’s like that because they see hubby and I feeling our way towards important decisions, about basic values and priorities. We all participate together, and our reasoning becomes clear – much better than them just seeing the final result and being told, you do this because we say so.

    Thanks for this post!

    • 4

      sgaissert said,

      I agree about how hearing the grown-ups converse helps the kids understand the process of reasoning. Our daughter enjoys the evenings we spend with adult friends because the conversation is so lively. Wish we could join the group at your table. Susan

  3. 5

    Rana said,

    I love to get into conversations with my husband. Unfortunately the timing is always bad. I usually start one at night before we go to bed it would be fine if he didn’t have to be up so early. I’ve been trying to draw out my kids more and asking them thought provoking questions too. We end up having some great conversations.

    • 6

      sgaissert said,

      My husband and I always get into those deep conversations when we’re alone at restaurants. Sometimes, we keep ordering things just so we can keep sitting there to talk! Susan

  4. 7

    stu said,

    this quote stuck with me too

    someone told me it ages ago, and i never knew what the wording was exactly. so thanks 🙂

    also, i like the name of your blog


    • 8

      sgaissert said,

      I found several wordings when I Googled the quote, but this one seems to be the most used. Funny how it sticks with people . . . Thanks for the compliment; I like the name, too. : ) Susan

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