Sandwich Board with Christopher Walken in Smithfield Area of London

“Get Schmeary” – What we can learn about the art of conversation from Christopher Walken

Happiness on a Sunday morning is seeing an article in the New York Times about one of my favorite actors from Queens because Christopher Walken captures Queens New Yorker’s straight forward approach to our communications like no other.

In this article, NYT writer David Marchese asked if Walken ever considered writing his memoir and received this response: “I was thinking of getting a court stenographer and just talking and having them write it down without any punctuation and what would happen.  I’ve always resented punctuation.… Because if you’re performing, the writer will put a question mark after something or an explanation or even a period.  It means that it’s the end of a thought and the beginning of another, whereas in life, conversation gets more schmeary (Queens NY translation- spreadable).  Sentences overlap thoughts overlap.”

Walken had me at the “always resented punctuation” because punctuation has never been my strong suit.  I now consider Walken my unofficial Queen-site Communications Sensei and a kindred spirit.  His comments highlight what we need to keep in mind when we engage others in dialogue:

Conversations are messy.

It’s true, and that messiness is where the energy and potential of our interchange lives.  Unlike texts and emails, that we curate and recraft, a dynamic, authentic conversation requires a collaborative flow of listening and response.  An engaging conversation begins when one of the parties relinquishes verbal control for a few minutes and invests time listening.  We complete the process when the other party recognizes that a good conversation requires that they hear a voice besides their own.  And when they recognize the power of a pause before responding.

So, take some time to engage in great conversations.  Listen and find out what you can learn about yourself and others when you take a chance and get schmeary.

Julienne B. Ryan is the author of The Learned-It-In-Queens Communications Playbook – Winning Against Digital Distraction” and an applied, narrative storyteller, speaker, trainer, and coach. She is on a mission to improve how we communicate with each other, one authentic conversation at a time. Click on this link to learn about her services.