I Can’t Hear You, You are Talking Too Much

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.

–Margaret Miller

for conversation articleMost folks seem more interested in talking than listening. I notice this as I sit staring at my cold coffee and listening to the person sitting across the table from me who has been talking for twenty minutes without a single thought that the other person might like to be involved in the conversation also.

Isn’t a conversation a two-way street? I always thought so, but maybe not. Perhaps culturally, the word ‘conversation’ has morphed into ‘monologue’.

 

conversation article 2

Typically I look forward to conversations with friends in anticipation of them talking, then me talking, then them talking, then me talking . . . you get the idea. I’m usually the first to dig into the meaty stuff with soul-probing questions like ‘how’s your life going?’ or ‘what’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?’ which launches an interesting  dialogue. I love to hear what’s going on in hearts and lives and also sharing what’s going on in mine. I love the inspiration and direction that comes from a stimulating conversation.  A rhythm develops, a natural give and take of laughter, caring and transparency.

Every good conversation starts with good listening. Deep conversations with the right people are priceless.

–Anonymous

Of course, this expectation is off the table if one of us is going through a shattering life struggle. That person gets a free pass and my job (hopefully I will not be the one going through an equivalent event at the same time) is to hold a hand, say a prayer, listen with real concern and not look at my phone. Not even once.

But let’s get real, here. Barring a person going through crisis, who wants to spend a couple of hours listening to someone chat conv art 4about themselves indefinitely without realizing the other person is getting all glassy-eyed and bored because they haven’t been asked a single question or given a few seconds of space to jump in and join?  I don’t get it. And I’ve tried being transparent about my feelings, but ohmigosh you’d think I’d barfed all over them by their reactions.

I don’t do that anymore.

Instead, I’m careful to limit contact. I don’t understand the mentality. Plus, I feel devalued when I’m with them.

On the flip side, my husband and I have experienced evenings with couples that leave us smiling and content when we part ways. I think it’s because they were really interested in us. And I suspect they treat most people that way. It is a lovely thing to be around these kinds of folks. I strive to be that kind of person.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.

–Margaret Wheatley