Friday, February 01, 2008

The Lost Art of Conversation

Has this ever happened to you? You are listening to a friend, coworker or family member talk about what ever is on their mind, usually a problem. You are courteous, maintain eye contact and you let them know by your responses and body language that you are interested, and at the time, you really are interested. Twenty minutes pass by, and your neck is getting a little stiff, and you decide to comment on something they said, but as you open your mouth and attempt to speak, they suddenly talk louder, until you give in, still trying not to be rude, you continue listening, again you try to speak and they give you the “look”. You know the look. It’s the look that says YOU are rude or that THEY disapprove of YOUR interruptions. They may even say to you “Excuse me I’m talking”

On and on they go Ad Nauseam . Finally, after an hour or more has gone by, and now along with a stiff neck, your shoulders are now aching and sagging, your facial muscles are stiff and numb, your vision has become blurred and you have a slight double vision and you can no longer be sure if your fake smile still looks real, he stops talking and you begin to speak. No sooner do you begin to speak than his eyes start to wander, he starts to fumble with something that has caught his attention and he (or she) is clearly not interested in anything you have to say. Now you get the “look” again. You know the look. It’s the look that says YOU are rude or that THEY disapprove of YOUR constant yakking. They may even say “Excuse me! I don’t have time to sit here and listen to you talk” and away they go, leaving you in mid sentence.

Cell phone users are the worst offenders. My good friend Ridge over at “Ridge’s Place” has covered cell phone users on his blog but it deserves to be repeated here briefly. Almost without fail every time I have a “Conversation”, and after listening to someone talk until my ear falls to the ground, and just as I begin to speak, their cell phone rings and they answer it. Now they give me the “Look” again. You know the look. It’s the look that says “Dude, I’m on the phone” or the index finger goes up as If to say “Give me a minute”. So you stand there thinking it’ll just be a minute, but they keep walking further away. You hear them talking loudly and laughing and it occurs to you that your friend has not given the caller a chance to speak yet either. It may be a while. Now you have a decision to make, Do I stand here like a dummy and wait for who knows how long or do I walk away.

It happens while on the phone too. Someone calls to talk to you, and I mean that literally too, they have no intention of listening because as soon as you begin to speak they say "I Gotta go man!” and then they hang up.

That is not conversation my friends. I am not an just one big ear. It makes me wonder how some people get as far as they do in life. Webster’s Dictionary defines a conversation as: “Speech used for informal exchange of views.”. American Heritage Dictionary describes it similarly as “The spoken exchange of thoughts, opinions, and feelings; talk.” and lastly Dictionary.com says a conversation is an “informal interchange of thoughts, information, etc., by spoken words; oral communication between persons; talk; colloquy.” In other words it takes two to Tango! A conversation should be free flowing. There are times when someone is overloaded and has to get something off their chest, understandable, but that is something different, that is when being a good friend and a good listener is important.

Think back to some of the really good times that you have shared with people. Chances are that a good conversation was involved somehow. Like an equitable deal, a good conversation should make everyone involved, feel good, as if what they had to say was important enough to be heard. While being a good conversationalist does mean being a good listener, it also means being fair and not taking advantage of a good listener. It means showing a little courtesy. Sometimes it means keeping your mouth shut. I guess what I’m really trying to say is don’t make me grab your nose and start twisting just to get a word in edgewise!

2 comments:

brian said...

...you got it,man;we're definately in the fast food era of conversation...by the way,I only outlasted you on cellphones by split decision.I hadda sue Talk America in small claims for not installing my phone when they were supposed to;they claimed they we're gonna add additional charges if I wasn't home when they decided to show up-and I still hate cell phones.And my cell phone is probably the only thing I haven't lost,so far..

Randyman said...

"The fast food era", man is that ever an apt description!

I suppose someday I'll have to break down and get one for emergencies sake only, but I'm just not ready to conceded just yet.

Speaking of losing things....

I read a quote years ago that went like this..

....Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.