“A gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.” Lisa Kirk
Accidentally found this quote and loved it right away. This is one particular statement that I get to find examples of on a daily basis. It’s also something to keep in mind, to use when striving for improvement. One thing needs to be there though – it naturally applies to face-to-face conversations. And that’s where our problem is …
Conversation is that one topic that has been suffering lately from one big digital ignore. While all of us were diving our noses in our smartphones, one enriching type of human interaction is feeling left out and hurt. We keep getting more from technological progress but we have lower and lower expectations from the volume of personal interaction. Smart phones on dinner tables, night stands and picnic blankets – that’s the current definition of ‘normal’. I admit to have done this way too many times and I identify it as an urgent fix that needs to be done.
Over time, most of us have become inseparable from our devices. Of course it’s convenient and efficient to have them around us – we get that extra operational speed, all these cool functions and apps. But there’s a bit more to them, a darker side if you will :) Could it be possible that our smartphones are our getaway from an uninteresting conversation? Are they means of only paying attention to the interesting parts? Are we trying to avoid that awkward moment of silence? Yup, must have happened for some of us.
It could be the case that we found refuge more and more in technology from those parts of ourselves that we see as vulnerabilities. There are certain ‘difficulties’ with normal conversations that one needs to overcome: time and location are fixed – no immediate getting out of it unless you want things to turn really really weird; you cannot hide behind a screen or your digital persona before you reply , you can’t re-edit or present that part of yourself that you want to present. A real conversation comes with some strings attached: you receive and you need to give something back. Social media, on the other hand, removes the strings and leaves us with a more in control environment.
What would be the other approach? The beauty of the all messy human interaction :) Why do we keep running away from intimacy? Conversation comes with a few weaknesses but, with a bit of sense of humor and adventure, nothing is impossible to overcome. We need to rediscover it, be real and stop pre-filtering, learn to enjoy each other’s presence once again. It’s a shame to lose a good conversation to a bunch of screws and wires
For amusement purposes, I prepared a few small exercises that we can try out in the upcoming days:
- Count the times you reach out for your phone when faced with a moment of silence at the lunch/dinner table
- Check if you are still alive after a full dinner with your phone in your bag
- Walk up to a complete stranger (but don’t be creepy) and try to sustain a 5 minutes conversation
- What is your favorite word? Mention it 3 times/minute and check how long it takes ’til your companion notices what you’re doing
- If you’re travelling by plane, try to start a conversation with the person next to you only through facial gestures; don’t overdo it though, they might ask for a change of seat
It’s a bit late to leave our devices, they are quite well settled in our lives. But what we could do is be a bit more aware of what their effect is on our relationships, live more in the moment and less online :) The time is to try and rediscover each other. We could practice conversation, explore a few topics, analyze gestures, think of answers, look at each other for a change. I find this a refreshing attempt and would actually like to see it better incorporated into our fully digitalized daily context. Gatherings would be much more fun, everyone being actually there and not partly engaged in a remote location. Let’s make some room for our emotions in raw form and break this unnecessary lock that has been put on our conversations.
Putting away my phone,