Thursday, June 18, 2015

Share The Conversation

Listen to me.  I have something to say.

I said that before.  Weren’t you listening?

My patience goes out the window when people don’t listen.  I hate to repeat myself, so if you weren’t paying attention the first time around, I will offer you a special attitude with the second time.

I admit that listening is a very difficult skill to master.  One that is becomes better with practice.

Then again, so is talking.  Conversation.  You must practice to become good at it.

It’s sort of a bummer that these two very difficult things are what good, healthy relationships are based upon.  We can assume to know what each other is thinking without listening to their words, but I can almost guarantee that hearing another person’s words is much better than figuring them out on our own.

Two people can’t have a relationship if only one is talking.  And two people can’t have a relationship if only one is listening.  If you’re silent, I can’t listen to you, and if you’re always talking, you can’t listen to me.


photo via death to stock

When my husband and I first got together we burned up the phone lines with our long-distance conversations.  We exchanged words until there were no words left.  Many of our talks ended with one of us falling asleep.

As the years went on and we spent more time together, the words between us were fewer.  Weariness and tedium took over and we didn’t feel the need to spend the energy saying anything.  Our connection stalled right where it was, and only grew deeper when we resumed communicating.  The years of stalled communication were hard.

I’ve had friendships that ended because one or both of us stopped picking up the phone.  In the end, both stopped listening; both stopped talking.  Sometimes I’d hear through the grapevine that the other person was angry with me.  I’d rack my brain for a memory of something I said or did wrong.  Sometimes I’d pick up the phone and try to make contact, to repair a rift that I wasn’t aware of.

I’m a naturally quiet person.  I like to talk only if I’m in the mood.  The mood doesn’t always strike.  It’s an effort for me to be friends with similar “listening” people, especially if that person entertains a hint of insecurity with the relationship.  Silence begets uncertainty, which leads to insecurity, defensiveness, anger, and relationship breakdown.  Walls go up.  People drift apart, never to speak again.

When a relationship contains a natural talker and a natural listener, each must make an effort.  One can’t always talk and one can’t always listen.  It has to go both ways.  Both parties need to contribute to building a relationship.

I’m no innocent.  Many of my friendships ended because I allowed them to end.  I didn't make the effort to continue talking.  When someone stops talking, the other has nothing to hear.  I have shouldered the blame for a friendship that has died because of my tendencies, which aren’t the friendliest.  I’ve dropped a relationship if I felt I wasn’t being heard, if the other person got so used to my quiet that my words no longer mattered to them and they talked over anything I said and didn’t listen when I finally spoke.

People stay in relationships for a lot of reasons, but communication is usually the key that locks two people together for the long run.  I’ve seen and experienced lopsided communication kill love and respect more times than I’d like.  In the end, when two-way communication stops, relationships break down.  When one person stops talking, the relationship ends.  Two people cannot have a relationship if only one is talking.   Likewise, a relationship cannot exist if only one person is listening.  Both must pick up the phone.

And share the conversation.

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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #1:. Write a blog post inspired by the word: listen

10 comments:

  1. You have pretty much summed up several of my relationships!

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    1. Yeah, most relationships suffer from lack of communication at one time or another. You are not alone!

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  2. I agree but I think an added challenge -because it can be awkward -is to communicate to the other person that you're not talking because you're not a big talker - not because of anything personal. I am more of a talker but work very hard on listening skills so I do end up being ok at that as well with conscious effort. If I know someone is introverted or tends that way or simply doesn't feel like talking in general that's valuable information to know and can change the course of a friendship or whether it continues to exist. Thank you for this post!

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    1. I agree - it is awkward to admit that you're not much of a talker. I've said it before, and it feels like sort of a confession. What the other person does with that information is important, and it probably needs to be repeated so nobody's feelings are hurt. It ends up being just part of the conversation. Thank you for your input - I really appreciate it!

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  3. I'm sort of just out of the thick of this with a friend. She has always been clear that she's not the type of friend to pick up the phone or reach out in any way, but boy does that get exhausting being the one to make the effort! There are too many people willing to reciprocate my effort for me to waste my time reaching out to someone who can't be bothered. Time to let that one go.

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    1. It's definitely a hard thing to do, to decide to let a friendship go. Finding a good balance between giving and receiving is a continual effort.

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  4. What a thoughtful post! My biggest complaint/observation lately are the people having one sided conversations. I'm a good listener but I'm a good talker too. When I was having a conversation with an acquaintance recently, she talked a LOT...when she took a breath, I showed interest in what she was talking about and then instead of her ' volleying' back the engagement, she just kept going. Is she a bad listener, socially challenged or just a person who won't transition from acquaintance to friend?

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    1. I know what you're saying. I've experienced this before, too, and it's frustrating to always be a sounding board. I've even had friends who were so used to talking that when I'd share something, they just talked over me as if they didn't even hear me. Eye-opening, for sure.

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    2. I would think she is just a bad listener/conversationalist. I make the same listening effort with someone I just met, even if the substance of the conversation is far less personal than with a friend. I also do my best to keep track of who's had more air time and that I am volleying back as you aptly put it.

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  5. I'm quiet too, so I guess I'm at fault at times for one-sided conversations. I'm a better listener than talker. My husband is a talker. So I guess it works in a way? Though it does pose a problem when I'm trying to talk and he doesn't really listen. :)

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