by Kenneth Justice
~ “I feel so starved for deeper conversation…every woman I meet lately seems so shallow and uninteresting to me….they don’t seem to be able to talk about anything of substance” that is what an older-divorced man told me and my friend as we were sitting at the café recently.
Divorced for more than five years now he had been telling my friend and I that he was growing tired of the dating scene…..”I wish I could meet a woman whom I could look forward to seeing every day and who always had something interesting to talk about” he said.
While I definitely echo his sentiments in the concept that a lot of conversation these days seems to revolve around the trivial……sometimes that is okay. To put it quite simply; every conversation we have can’t be intellectually intense or we might get overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all.
One of the difficulties I ran into while working with people at the jail and at the rehab clinic is that it was difficult for me to have so many intensely personal conversations with people;
—-) Spending 4 – 6 straight hours day-after-day with people in tears…as they worked through the personal issues that landed them in jail or in the rehab clinic was overwhelming at times
—-) Listening to dozens and dozens of people a week pour out their hearts to me and their most intimate thoughts was extremely difficult for me to handle…I led a number of group counseling sessions and sometimes I would have has many as 10 people in tears at a time……I found that there is only so much raw emotive energy I can handle week-after-week
It’s not that I don’t want to talk about personal issues or deep intellectual problems; but when you are in a situation where its all your doing….it can be a bit unnerving……..exhausting…..and you can find yourself longing for someone to hang out with who just makes you laugh at their silly jokes.
I suspect the same principle applies in a relationship; if all you ever have are deep intellectually stimulating conversations you might burn each other out; there’s only so much depth that we can each handle in one sitting.
I suspect though that are culture is a little too imbalanced toward the silly; too many conversations are about celebrity news, athletics, and other various trivial subjects….and for that reason a lot of people are longing for something deeper to talk about.
As my friend and I talked with the divorced man….one of the things that became quite apparent is that he was a poor listener. Every time my friend tried to get a word in the man would talk over him; he was dead set on talking about himself and his own problems….and he wasn’t interested in a back-and-forth conversation.
That is the key isn’t; having a good conversation involves a lot of listening…and a lot of people simply are interested in listening.
Not that long ago I had an eighteen year old guy sit down at my table and confess to me that he had tried cocaine the night before…it was his first time…..and then a few days later a nineteen year old young woman confessed the very same thing; she had tried cocaine at a party over the weekend after being pressured by her friends.
Both of the teens were looking for someone to talk to in order to work through the various emotions they were dealing with in relation to having done a drug that is considered such a taboo in our culture……..neither wanted to talk to their parents about the experience at all…….
Most of the conversation with the two teens involved me listening and asking a couple simple questions, “How do you feel about what you did?”, “Do you think your friends are a bad influence, or were you going to the drug regardless of your friends“, and other such things…..
If we want to have deep conversation with someone we have to be prepared to listen. We have to listen to their ideas, their philosophy, their thoughts…..even if we don’t necessarily agree with everything they are saying….we have to listen.
Good listeners make good friends. Perhaps one of the reason I enjoy writing these articles every morning is that it gives me the opportunity to talk…because so much of my life is about listening.
But its also important to paint a proper picture; much of what I listen to isn’t ‘deep and stimulating’….much of the conversations at my café revolve around the lighter things of life….because its by talking about the everyday things that we build trust in our friendships; its by talking about those little things that leads us to talking about those big things…..
And all of this talking involves a lot of listening….because if you aren’t willing to listen then it probably means you aren’t willing to have a deep conversation….
time for another coffee,