Tuesday, May 8, 2018

thought for the week




I was having a deep discussion with someone last week and it got intense. Trying to convey my feelings was hard. I took care to choose my words thoughtfully as I focused on a piece of lint sitting perfectly poised on my knee. As I looked up at her to see if she was getting my point, I could see that she wasn't really listening. She was staring at me, chewing on her lower lip, impatiently waiting for me to finish what I was saying so she could either tell me her thoughts or change the subject to something lighter.

I stopped what I was saying mid-sentence because it was so distracting. I paused. She quickly jumped in to give me her thoughts on what I was saying and in the same sentence, changed the topic to a new reality show she was watching. 

I felt dejected, as if what I had said was either too hard to discuss or wasn't important to her. I let it go but I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling annoyed. There were several moments when I wanted to finish the conversation from earlier but I realized that it just wasn't going to happen. I was anxious to end our visit and just head home. 

This morning I thought about that conversation and how little I felt knowing that the friend I was talking with wasn't really listening, but waiting (clearly impatiently) to say something, which literally had nothing to do with the topic that was so important to me. Then, I realized that I too, have been guilty of this. I remembered a girlfriend who was telling me about an issue that she was having at work. I had been through exactly the same thing and I couldn't wait to tell her how I handled it. I interrupted her. It was wrong of me and I realized later that I should have let her talk and not been so quick to take over the conversation, regardless of my motives.

It's a natural thing to want to align ourselves with each other, to try and fix things. It's also natural to feel so uncomfortable in a difficult conversation that you just want to change the topic. The thing is, is that there is so much to be gained by quieting ourselves and just listening. Sometimes there is no solution to a problem we're having. Just talking makes it better. Yes, there are some conversations that are hard to hear but a good relationship, a solid one, means that you support someone. In the silence and the eye contact, there is magic. I can't even count how many realizations I have had simply by talking my thoughts through to family members/friends/colleagues who had the great ability to just listen. What they did for me in those moments was allow me to gain clarity that I wouldn't have had if they had just jumped in. 

The conversation last week was a good lesson for me. Sometimes the greatest gifts are in the silence.


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