Last week I sat down with an acquaintance. I thought we would have a conversation but I was wrong. This person is quite nice and interesting. However, the person talked about himself the entire 45 minutes. He did not pause for a reaction or ask any questions about me. At one point I thought to myself, if I were a wall he would probably keep talking. Then I thought maybe he thinks that I find his life so interesting that I am entertained by him. At one point there was a lull in the conversation and I told himself quite important about my life. He had absolutely no reaction, and I know he heard me. Only moments later he started to talk about himself again. As a newly certified spiritual director who has been trained on how to actively listen, it was obvious this man had never been taught how to listen at all. It was painful to sit there and listen without a break for 45 minutes. I listened though. I didn’t want to be rude.
What I learned from this one sided conversation is that people need to learn to have a conversation. It’s like when we were little children and we were taught the importance of sharing. As grown ups we need to share our time in conversations. A person talks, the other reacts, and responds. A different person talks, the other responds and at times there is no verbal response sometimes tears, hugs, or a nod. It is so important for everyone to realize we need to share our time. Listen to one another. Don’t talk at a person, talk with a person. It shows respect when you trust someone with your stories, it shows more respect when you hold a space of listening to the other’s stories. Today, try having an actual conversation, talk, listen, learn, respond, and allow the other person to talk, listen, learn, and respond. It can be a life-changer.