In thinking about this post, a number of other potential titles crossed my mind. Amongst them, “A simple guide to relating” and “The (almost) lost art of conversation”. I’ve been feeling quite disgruntled with the superficial level of chatter in some social gatherings. The conversation goes here and there. Discussions started get interrupted and derailed, going off in different directions. At the end of it I am left wondering what of substance has actually been said.
I’ve noticed another characteristic of interactions that result in a ‘heart-sink’ feeling for me. It’s the ones where I seem to be asking all of the questions of other people, in the absence of any reciprocation.
Which leads me to the “Are you okay?” question. Too often we hear of the suicide of someone well known in a sporting or occupational community. We hear the person’s peers wax lyrical about how valued they were, accompanied by statements like ‘we are a family’. Given some of the experiences I’ve had in friendship circles, I sometimes wonder how much interest or care was really shown to the person when they were alive. Asking the question ‘are you okay?’ is a good start. But did the conversations go any deeper, or just deteriorate into idle chatter? When this happens to me I find it quite an isolating and devaluing experience, and I am ‘okay’. How are superficial and one-sided conversations being experienced by a person who is already emotionally fragile?
Last year I attended a BIG high school reunion. Talking to a friend I hadn’t seen for the 10 years since the last one, I asked ‘What’s important to you in your life at the moment David?’ After he spoke to this for a bit, he then said ‘And what’s important to you in your life Jo?’ Oh the joy of being asked!! These are the sorts of conversations we need to be having with our friends. Two-way conversations that invite some reflection and discussion about purpose, meaning, struggles, and plans.
So, now that I have that off my chest, I would love to know – what is important to you in your life at the moment? Please leave a comment and let’s start really talking!