There’s a lot of talk going on everywhere. Gossip, cocktail, party chatter. Let it all hang out of television shows. Yup, lots of talk but very little real conversation where people really share and listen and think about it.
If we learn to talk and listen differently we may get very different results in our lives.
Begin by listening to yourself when you are supposedly in a conversation with someone else. Where is your attention ? Is your head full of noises and prejudices instead of being present with the person next to you?
Overhear yourself avoiding the main issue, telling little lies, speaking in imprecise ways. Notice the ways you may be holding back. Notice the automatic tracks along which your conversations run. When someone says: “How are things?” do you automatically answer: “Fine.” Really ? Is that the truth?
A great conversation is one where you’re really present, opens up spaces in your mind. It helps you discover thoughts you didn’t know you had. The big question is, why most fail in striking a chord and breaking barriers with just a charming word play?
Someone once said that one of the greatest human needs is to be understood not interpreted.
Public realities can, and have, been changed directly as a result of powerful public dialogue.
For instance, we all have dreams for India but nothing changes. Perhaps if we changed the way we talked, we could change the destiny of the country.
There are many global issues that affect billions of people but in different ways: Climate change, terrorism, religious violence, the water crisis.
These issues are in need of urgent conversations across national boundaries between people who may hate each other or may not but aren’t working well enough together. These realities too can change but they need a special kind of talking and a special kind of listening.
How do you go bankrupt? Slowly and then suddenly says Ernest Hemingway. Same goes for our relationships. The conversation is the relationship.
Real conversations require the courage to come out from behind yourself and be real: To say what you mean, mean what you say—and not be mean when you say it.
If your private conversations run along automatic tracks, here’s a tip: Change the physical setting. If the boss or dad always sits at the head of the table, the conversation rarely changes.
Try something simple like changing where people sit. And then have the courage to speak your truth cleanly.
Here’s a starting point, in the next conversation you have with someone close to you, look the person in the eye and ask: What do you care about ? What really matters to you?
And then do something radically different. When he or she replies, really listen. Be Present. Here. Now.
See you next week, good bye.