The past few days have been fun for my palate being a ‘let’s have lunch’ week – business and just for fun. Chit-chats, commiserating, and conferring. Two of these meetings stuck in my mind for more than their sparkling entertainment value.
The first was lunch with a new-ish friend; we met up for spicy curry and juicy gossip. We had worked together and discovered some common interests – chatting was fun and easy-going. At first. We shared thoughts and stories … then ARGH! I realized I had yet to finish a sentence. At first, I put it down to his enthusiasm; the “I know! That’s happened to me TOO”. The conversation devolved into a diatribe – I simply became weary of having all of my sentences finished for me and I shut down. It was a quick meal.
The second notable lunch was Mango Thai salad with a popular radio personality. He was very gracious to meet with me to discuss a new website and to consider endorsing it. This is a man who talks – for a living. We got the business bit out of the way before lunch arrived and then just started shooting the breeze. As contemporaries, conversation was easy. When I was telling a story, he leaned in a little across the table, maintained eye contact, nodded occasionally (happy to say laughed occasionally), with quiet hands and relaxed shoulders. No anticipation of what I may say next – no impatience in his body language. This guy knows how to listen.
What an huge contrast! The first lunch left me irritated and jittery. I rushed through my sentences and cut short my thoughts in the vain attempt to get to a full stop. My companion’s shoulders were tense, hands frantic – his mind spinning at full tilt waiting with the next thing HE was going to say. The latter? Thoughtful, meaningful, delightful. It’s possible to be enthusiastic in conversation without being a jerk.
Conversation is an art. Listening is a skill; an active sport. When I’m listening to someone, I’m listening with all of my senses – my body is relaxed, breath quiet. My eyes watch their expressions change, my mind is quiet and open to completely digest, not just their words, but their thoughts. I take a beat to consider what they’ve said before responding – no panic to get my words in. And when someone responds in kind? That’s a great conversation.
Can you just shut up and listen? Do you ‘give good conversation’?