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the significance of ‘doorway conversations’

January 29, 2010

Frank, do you know what a hero is? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred,
he’s somebody who’s tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough not to give a damn.
I don’t give a damn.
” — Hawkeye

Some things just stick in your mind and will not leave.

In the past two years I have read two books by Alan Alda (‘Hawkeye’ from MASH) – “Things I Overhead While Talking To Myself” and “Never Have Your Dog Stuffed and Other Things I Have Learned“. There was a small section of one of them that has stuck with me and comes to mind a couple of times a week.

Alan Alda identifies what he calls ‘doorway conversations’. They are the conversations that often occur at the end of an interaction with someone – as they (or you) are standing in the doorway on the way out. They take place then, he says, because the subject is very important to one of the people involved but they just haven’t found a way to introduce it into the preceding conversation, or haven’t found the courage to raise it directly. That can be a problem because we are often not in a position to give the time or the focus to the issue that it needs – we are often already on our way (both mentally and physically) to our next commitment.

It is his experience, and mine, that once you are aware of the phenomena of ‘doorway conversations’  you will   see them in all sorts of situations. You will also have a better appreciation of the significance to the other person of that seemingly throw-away comment delivered just before you part company with them. Taking action from that space can create a number of opportunities for you both.

Or perhaps you will be like me and find yourself thinking “That was too important for me to leave to a ‘doorway conversation’!” and resolve to create better circumstances next time. Either way, I am guessing after reading this that you will find doorway conversations appearing in a surprising number of places.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2010 1:47 am

    Interesting, because the last time I was speaking to you I was standing in a doorway and you were on your way to a meeting!

  2. Megan permalink
    February 8, 2010 9:32 am

    Funny you know… I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit since we chatted today… I often have doorway comments. I’m not sure why that is but I suspect I will learn more about the reason after the next one.

    Thanks! Always a pleasure!

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