Blog Post

He had his conversation in the world

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 29 March 2019



He had his conversation in the world
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 225
Posted DateFriday 29 March 2019 19:21 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

A little while back I came across an online etymology dictionary and was fascinated to learn the roots and the evolution of the word "conversation".

conversation (n.)
mid-14c., "place where one lives or dwells," also "general course of actions or habits, manner of conducting oneself in the world," both senses now obsolete; from Old French conversacion "behavior, life, way of life, monastic life," and directly from Latin conversationem (nominative conversatio) "frequent use, frequent abode in a place, intercourse, conversation," noun of action from past-participle stem of conversari "to live, dwell, live with, keep company with," passive voice of conversare "to turn about, turn about with."

It seems to me that this obsolete meaning fits well with the concept of Conversational Leadership. You might say that Conversational Leadership is about how "we conduct ourselves in the world" or maybe "how we interact with the world."

Anyway, I had forgotten all about this old usage until the other day I was walking in London from Charing Cross to the City, along Fleet Street and visited some of the many churches along the way. I love the quiet and peacefulness of old churches amid the hustle and bustle of modern-day London.

I sat at a pew in a church called St Dunstan-in-the-West for a while contemplating life and as came to leave, I decided to read one or two memorial plaques on the wall. The photo is the first one I read - a sad story of a young man drowned in the Rhone in 1848 near Geneva and there were the words: "He had his conversation in the world". That old 14th century meaning was still in use almost 200 years ago.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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