Conversations are beautiful things. They are the thing that I missed the most over these past two weeks. Sure, I have been able to communicate, mostly through facial expressions and typing on my phone, but I haven’t been able to converse. This is because conversations don’t stay in the same place. They skip, hop and bounce from one thing to another or one person to the next with little or no break in-between. It didn’t matter how fast my typing skills were or how good I became at conveying my thoughts via my facial expression. I couldn’t keep up.
So after a while I stopped trying.
Instead, I sat back and I listened. I thought of all the things I would add if I could talk, all the ways in which I would have contributed to those conversations had I been able to. That was, until I realized it didn’t seem to matter. The discussions were still rich, people still enjoyed them, incredible ideas were discussed, meetings went from start to finish with the end point met, there were still laughs, things still got done and all of this happened without anything being said by me.
So it got me thinking:
If what I say isn’t as important as I used to think it was, how often is that the case for everyone?
If conversations are moving so fast that I can’t keep up, how often are others cut off because the discussion has moved on before they’ve shared their thoughts?
If I’m only now allowing myself to step back and see how rich other peoples ideas are, how often do we not take note?
And these thoughts made me realize that:
We should appreciate the thoughts and opinions of others. Nothing that I say is of any greater importance than anyone else. So often I watched as sentences were cut short, as people were stopped before they’d had a chance to share their thoughts simply because someone else’s mind had been triggered and they wanted to share their idea.
We should slow down. Conversations happen too quickly. We don’t give enough time to what we want to convey as we’re always rushing on to the next thing. We don’t take enough time to stop and think before we talk and we don’t spend enough time listening to what others are saying before responding. Which brings me on to:
We should listen more. The beautiful thing about a conversation is that it requires more than one person. That means that someone else at that moment in time is thinking about the same thing as you, they’re on the same journey that you are but that doesn’t mean they think the same way that you do. Utilizing the first two lessons we need to realize that we don’t know what others are thinking and so we need to ask them. We need to slow the conversation down enough to include them and we need to listen to what they’re saying before responding, rather than assuming we know their thoughts.
Embrace it. Learn from it. Reflect on it.
I’m allowed to talk again now but it’s not easy. My voice is weak and out of practice. I can’t talk over music or other background noise and due to concentrating on my breathing my speech is slow. But that’s okay because I now know that I don’t always need to be talking. What other people have to say matters just as much, if not more, than what I could say. I know that I can slow down because we have time and that conversations need time. Most importantly; it’s okay because I can make sure I’m really listening to what it is that others are saying before responding.