The art of conversation – time to rediscover it?

Back in the time when we were allowed to socialise freely I was sitting in my local dance hall, just nicely recovering from a rousing cha-cha, when an elderly gentleman approached me and began describing, in very graphic detail, his recent surgery, which involved having a needle inserted into his eyeball under local anaesthetic.

Image of men talking

Being of a somewhat squeamish nature and munching carrot cake at the time (thank God I wasn’t eating a pomegranate!), I initially found this unhappy tale rather unwelcome, although I have to admit to a certain morbid fascination with both the lurid detail and the satisfaction the guy displayed in gleefully entrapping me with this somewhat lurid account.

Remembering that it’s important to hear what people are really saying as opposed to what they’re telling you, I figured that what my ocularly-challenged friend was really conveying, was that he had been through a difficult, painful experience and what he actually wanted was a listening ear for his sore eye, even a shoulder to cry on, assuming his tear-ducts were still functioning and a sympathetic, supportive response.

This incident served to remind me that at times when we’re feeling vulnerable, scared, or hurting, a conversation can be a positive, uplifting experience. And in an era where so much ‘communication’ takes place over social media, I think it’s important to sometimes remind ourselves of just how critical this ‘art’ is to our emotional health and wellbeing.

Social interaction

Conversation works on various levels, indeed, before the current pandemic, many never rose any higher than the state of the weather. Thanks to coronavirus, we have so much more to discuss!

Right now, conversation is vital if we want to maintain our mental health, our optimism and, yes, keep our businesses.

Investing in conversation can be truly rewarding. Particularly, if we remember to listen more than we talk, ask questions and try to keep the conversation positive we are very likely to learn something new, add value, bring support and come away feeling enriched and enlightened by the experience.

So, if you’re like many people in business and have more time right now, why not rediscover the pleasure of picking the phone up? Not to check LinkedIn or the latest horror on the news, but to actually call someone. You may want to text first, to increase your chances of them picking up (some people are amazed when the phone rings as it doesn’t happen very often nowadays).

By the way, in the case of my dancing friend, I discovered off-loading his tale of woe served to help him waltz off back to the dance floor with gusto, his foxtrot fortified and his rhumba revitalised. The art of conversation is still very much alive, but we do need to use it if we’re not to lose it!

This post was written by Adrian Wales of LPD Associates for Breaking Free Design.

Image of Adrian Wales of LPD Associates

Adrian Wales is one half of LPD Associates. Highly experienced in leadership, innovation and change management, they raise the effectiveness of individuals, teams and leaders while also improving the quality and balance in their lives.
“I support, empower and inspire people to succeed.”
Adrian WalesLPD Associates

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