By Dianna Booher—
Would a good conversation replace your next Advil or Valium? You might be surprised.
In fact, consider the following “monitoring questions” regarding your personal communication habits:
- Has your reading at work become nothing more than a recital of the day’s news or project updates?
- Has your conversation at home become nothing more than an exchange of schedules and to-dos?
- What’s the most important discussion you’ve had in the past month? (Nothing comes to mind?)
- How long has it been since someone actually listened to you about a troubling situation?
If your answers cause sadness rather than satisfaction, you may need a communication adjustment. Have you even noticed that many of your co-workers, clients — and maybe even family members — resist a real conversation?
Ten days ago, I opened a ticket with the support team on a publishing site because my login stopped working. Every few days after opening the ticket, I emailed again asking for help. Each time an automatic reply arrived in my inbox that didn’t help.
So I started calling the phone number at the bottom of their email. Again, instead of getting a call back, I got an email response – slightly adjusted to the problem, but no solution.
Finally, out of sheer frustration, I called the second level support team. A live person replied, promising that she would be called back in “a few minutes” by Amy, the manager of all levels of support.
Excited when I finally got to someone who could help, I waited. And waited. And waited. Two days later, the manager emailed instead of calling. Her message: “I copy the support team to contact you.”
Full circle. And all without ever having a conversation – or a solution! Not uncommon today.
While education may inform us, conversation completes us as human beings. Consider what some of the great philosophers and authors have to say about the critical nature of meaningful one-on-one conversations:
“The best thing in life is conversation, and the greatest success is trust, or perfect understanding between sincere people.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Sweet treatise – the banquet of the mind.” -John Dryden
“A conversation is a record of ourselves…. Conversations are the outlet of both character and thoughts… It is the student’s laboratory.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Do you remember those slumber parties or campfire outings when you sat in a group and talked all night? Do you remember those heated discussions in a psychology, sociology, or history class when you exchanged answers that—if implemented in society—would have changed the world? At the time, you might have agreed with Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s observation: “A good conversation is as energizing as black coffee, and just as hard to fall asleep after.”
All your relationships in life are the result of your interactions stacked up between you and another person from start to finish. Conversations connect us with other people.
But you both need to talk and listen to complete communication. Think about what a relief and relief you feel when someone really “listens to you.” We sometimes hesitate to “tired” ourselves with a friend’s busy schedule. But is it really a barrier to starting a conversation? Think about how noble you feel when you have listened carefully to someone and offered him or her the gift of understanding.
If you want to breathe fresh air into your life and relieve stress, decide to talk to someone for a longer period of time – really talk. Call a friend for no specific reason and talk about something important to you. Listen to their opinion on the subject. Listen to their reactions to what you say. Brainstorm common problems and related solutions together.
And if your coworkers and friends live at such a hectic pace that they can’t find time for conversations, share your thoughts with an elderly relative.
Or go to a retirement home and you’ll find a willing audience – and often deep wisdom. Even as a teenager, I often visited our local assisted living home as part of a service organization, and I can still remember the peace that came to my mind when some residents there gave me their undivided attention for 15 minutes. Such interactions almost always led to provocative reflection.
In this age of disconnection from family and work-home arrangements away from co-workers, engaging in deep conversation can make you feel like you’re alive again.
Dianna Booher is the bestselling author of 49 books, including: Communicate like a leader† She helps organizations to communicate clearly. Follow her on BooherResearch.com and @DiannaBooher.