When Walls Break Down

by Matt Mattson

Real human connection is often absent from conversations. Most of the time we’re all just playing our assigned part. We’re sending messages one way, maybe receiving some messages, and it stops there.

But sometimes the walls break down.

Interviews of movie stars and directors are great examples of this. Think about an interview you’ve seen or heard on TV or radio recently. You’ll remember the interviewer asking pre-scripted questions. Then the star or director will give a pre-considered responses. Repeat til the time runs out. Doesn’t that seem like a lot of the conversations you have on most days?

But the other day, I heard this interview on NPR — Audie Cornish interviews Spike Jonze about his new film, “Her.”  The topic of the film is fodder enough to explore a future with too little Social Excellence, but that’s not what I’m writing about.  I’m writing about what happens in the interview itself. The walls of standard communication roles come crumbling down just after the 4:00 mark. It’s awesome.

Listen to the interview. It’s 8 minutes long. The first 1/2 is exactly what you’d expect. But then Spike says, “It seems close, what do you mean?”  Audie accidentally opens a door to authentic connection, and Spike pounces. It’s beautiful. And he doesn’t let up. He creates (and Audie allows) genuine, authentic exchange. Emotional connection happens. They matter to each other in that moment. They’ll both remember this conversation. And we, as listeners, are so much the better for it.

And to top it all off… the interview (a RADIO interview) ends with a hug.

How can you break down standard communication roles in your life?  How can you break down the walls, get below the surface, really connect? How can you matter more to the people you interact with on a daily basis by being real?

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