When’s the last time you talked with someone? Really talked, I mean. Exchanged thoughts, shared ideas. Discovered common ground. Danced around areas of disagreement.
When’s the last time you listened? Really listened, I mean. Not formulated a response while their lips made words, waiting for your turn to jump in and make your own words because that’s what you felt like you should do. And that if you didn’t say something, anything, you wouldn’t be “interesting.”
In other words, when’s the last time you had a real conversation?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. When you’re a writer whose days are spent at a keyboard — peppered occasional with brief forays into the Wonderful World of Spoken Words because of business meetings or conference calls or whatnot — these are the kinds of thoughts that ramble through your head. And I’ve come to the realization that to stumble into a real, honest to goodness conversation is worth its weight in gold.
Because there’s something inherently human about that connection. Something deeply necessary for our spirit and our soul. Sharing yourself, putting your ideas, thoughts, beliefs into words and finding common ground with someone else can be the soothing balm that eases the choppy waters of a rough day.
A simple conversation is priceless.
Conversation is where friends are made, loves are discovered, inspiration is found and balance is restored. Conversation is where you reconnect to those lost parts of yourself. Conversation is one of the rare times in life where you need not walk alone.
To have a discussion — which is different than talking — is opening the door to learning. Listening — which is different than hearing — is where you walk through that door and settle into a room of new possibility.
And that’s one thing I suspect people still don’t get.
You learn more by listening than you do by talking. You learn more by paying attention to not only what’s said and how it’s said — body language, inflection, pauses and hesitation — but also in what isn’t being said.
And that’s where the real truth lies. In the words not used. In the words not spoken. In the words they don’t yet have the courage or self-awareness to say.
But you lose these discoveries if you’re too busy talking. And, generally, we all tend to talk too much. So stop. Just stop it. Really. It’s unnecessary.
Because while your mouth’s a’movin’, you’re missing the important stuff. The courage being found and the truths being shared. The brave breakthroughs and the baring of the wounded soul. While your mouth’s a’movin’, you’re missing the chance to stop and listen and, with your quiet kindness and patient grace, maybe change a life.
Think about it.
Sometimes all that’s needed is your silence and your sincerity. And sometimes, just sometimes, when you’re quiet and listening, you truly hear what’s being said — and not being said.
And that’s where the real conversation lies. That’s where the connection needs to be made.
So, the next time you find yourself striking gold with a real, honest to goodness conversation, stop, listen, watch, hear with your heart and your soul and have the courage, with your silence, to say “Talk to me.”
You’ll be a better person because of it.