If we look at our relationships as conversations, what kind of conversations are we having? I was recently speaking to a friend about past relationships when I described one as a small talk conversation. Though this was an all round positive relationship, attempts to take topics and experiences to a deeper level were met with little to no response, everything seemed to stay superficial. I can have a conversation with anyone about anything of meaning or interest to me, I’m not interested in small talk. I can listen to someone speak for hours about something I find interesting but what I can’t do is engage in prolonged meaningless banter used to fill space. It’s just not in my skill set, and I’m ok with that. No matter what was going on in that relationship, to me, it felt like I was having a small talk conversation. Thinking back on my past relationships and really looking at, what kind of conversations was I having? I’ve had a couple that were more like sketch comedy writing sessions, one was more of a therapy session where I just sat, listened and provided guidance and support and I’ve experienced a loss in balance to where it no longer seemed to be one of peers. When we look at our relationships and really think about what kind of conversation is representative of that relationship vs the conversations we enjoy engaging in, do they align? When I think about the interactions I want to fill my life I think of one of those amazing conversations you have with your best friends or the ones you have with kindred spirits you cross paths with along the way, often only in passing just to share in that short and meaningful, sometimes transformative, story that sticks with you for life. For myself I want my relationship to feel like a discussion that gets me excited in the power center of my core, one that fills my heart with love and warmth. A conversation that brings me to tears from laughter with my sides aching. One that leaves me feeling like I just learned something, with a knowing of growth in my soul. An exchange where you can feel the increase in vibrational frequency between two people. That’s the conversation I want to spend my life in. Looking over my past relationships I realise how many of them didn’t even equate to a conversation. There is an art to conversation, it’s a skill that has to be developed. My conversational skills are at least average but my small talk game could definitely use improvement. A key ingredient to a good conversation in genuine interest. A good conversationalist knows how to listen, read body ques, thinks before responding and is genuinely interested in what the other person has to say. They don’t just wait for their opportunity to speak, they’re not there just to be heard. Conversations aren’t had to persuade someone to your ideas but to hear someone else’s and learn why they think or feel that way. A good conversation is a 50/50 sharing of ideas, thoughts, emotions, passions, honest truths, information about a topic or self, all without judgment. That 50/50 can shift from 60/40 or 40/60 throughout the conversation or if one person is more knowledgeable on a topic but there has to be equal sharing. If one person bares their soul and expresses trust and vulnerability but is not met with the same in return, that conversation may have some awkward pauses before someone decides to walk away. So what kind of conversation are you having? Is it funny and informative? Are you in the middle of an argument or a misunderstanding? A lecture or small talk? Are you even talking? Are you in the middle of a deep conversation that covers a variety of topics? Are you ready to step away to read a book or turn on the TV? Or are you sitting up with your feet on the couch facing your partner listening intently to what they have to say, fully absorbing the information, genuinely interested in where this topic leads? Can you talk about opposing opinions and hear the other person's why with a genuine interest and no judgements or intentions of swaying them to your why? That’s the conversation I’m looking for. You need two(or more) engaged and interested parties for a good conversation. You need open mindedness, vulnerability and genuine interest.
If a conversation can represent our relationships can we use conversation techniques to guide our relationships into the interactions we want to be having? At any point in a conversation we can decide to start listening intently. We can decide to stop judging, get engaged and with genuine interest ask questions, open up and be vulnerable. We can stop arguing or trying to convince or persuade our partners and listen. We can climb up in the chair, sit on our feet, facing our partner and get fully engaged. We can become aware of the language and tone we use. We can ask ourselves, how am I perceived compared to my intention? Personally, I have been known to get excited and passionate when I speak and I never understood why people got offended or intimidated until my dad said to me ‘when you talk to me like that, it feels like you're attacking me’ even though the conversation wasn’t about him. So if a conversation is a metaphor for my relationship, then how do my conversational skills affect my presence in a relationship? When we become aware of the areas we can improve we give ourselves the opportunity to take a look into our dark side, face our demons and choose to be a better version of ourselves. Improving our conversational skills can bring benefits to all our relationships. If we actively listen with genuine interest, people notice that. We can feel it when someone is genuinely interested in us. I have even said to a partner ‘I don’t think you actually hear anything I say’ and I never felt like that person was genuinely interested in me. And to be honest, it didn’t take long before I wasn’t interested in listening either.
I see this as valid for all our relationships. So I choose not to be in a small talk relationships. I want a depth and meaning that interests and excites me, that gets me up on my seat with a smile on my face and holds my full attention and is one hundred percent reciprocated.