Geek As Citizen: Talking Is OK

Discussion Communication

It’s been an eventful few weeks in geekery, with many a thing to make us discuss problems in geekdom and society in general – and what we can do to make things better.

Now a lot of my posts are often calls to action Indeed for all I write, I hope mostly it provides tools and resources for people to do things. I’m always leery of “calls to action” that just seem to keep making more calls to action without becoming anything.

I actually think this is a culture problem. In a culture where overpaid punditry blotivates endlessly, we’re used to not calls for action, but plenty of complaining and words. It discourages action and replaces it with talking.

However, there is a time to talk. When the “Game of Thrones” rape controversy came up, one of the people in the discussion at Geek Girl Diva noted that she’d seen highly productive talks about the controversy. These talks helped people think of what they do, decide on action, and question themselves.

This is where talking actually does make a difference. So though I’ve often decrited the talk-talk-talk of our culture that rarely results in action, I want to note talking has a point. Sometimes the goal literally should be “talk amongst yourselves.”

It’s just that it’s a specific kind of talking that’s important . . .

The Value Of Dialogue

Endless talking solves little (except perhaps providing a paycheck). But when people both talk and listen, then you have dialogue, and dialogue is productive.

Dialogue is what happens when you combine talk and listening. People speak and hear, respond and think, and get involved. Dialogue is really a case of being vulnerable, to both show your ideas and recieve new ones.  Dialogue changes you.

Good, solid dialogue about the issues of our culture (geek and larger) is very useful becuase it helps us grow and change. It is a productive activity in that we evolve.  Other people may not, but we can – but then again our personal evolution is important.

As long as, of course, we’re able to make it an actual dialogue.

The Forgotten Value Of Listening

The listening part of Dialogue is the thing I think that’s often missed, and culturally it seems to be something not properly respected. But I wanted to address the issue specifically.

Listening is something I’ve ben thinking about lately, and I find it often lacking. Some people don’t respond out of habit, other people out of ego, others didn’t think of it. There may be no malice in not listening – as a guy who switches easily into “solve a problem mode” where I don’t listen, it can happen without malice.  But it happens.

Listening is a case of being vulnerable, of willing to connect by letting someone’s words in, of letting them affect you, of acknowledigng them. It’s nto easy to do, especially if you view talking as a shouting match or are just used to “dialogue” being “people yelling until someone gets disgusted.”

When you bring listening into talking – and people do both – then you have dialogue

Actionize Your Dialogue

So a thing I’d suggest for people who are looking to improve geek culture – and understand the value of dialogue – find ways to “actionize” dialogue.  Focus on and turn it into action so it’s a “call to action” – satisfying both the need for dialogue and the need for people to get involved.

  • If you are running communities and organizing dialogue, then encourage said dialogue. One of my favorite elements is to ask “what have you changed your mind about?”
  • Tell people what you heard – this is called “reflecting” – so they know they were heard. Look up “Active Listening” to learn more.
  • Ask people what changed about them from/during a dialogue. It shows people what was learned and encourage it – and start yourself.
  • Ask/note how people can take action based on dialogue. Are you going to write different, try a different story, alter your game development, etc.? Ask what it changed not in a “new action” but changing regular ones.
  • Set aside sections on your site, in your blog, or so on for dialog.

Talking Has It’s Place

So talking has it’s place in responding to geek culture issues – in the form of dialogue. When people talk and listen things get done – in the case of personal education, learning, development, and ideas. Dialogue is more about actions that change you.

Besides, when there’s a good dialogue going, ideas for larger issues and plans can be spawend as well. You may come up with ideas for charitizes, causes, programs, and more to address geek culture issues.

But sometimes you need a dialogue to get there.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at