My partner & I often get talking on inconsequential things and then suddenly there’s this deep twist to the entire conversation. She asked me, so what do you think about the Kangana and Hrithik controversy and I say “I don’t really care”. Before she can turn away, I say, “I find the entire issue lacking in grace and humility”. And before we know it this has moved onto a myriad of related issues- relationships, extramarital alliances, perception of beauty, gender dynamics, co- existence of class and crass, feeling of entitlement, how people find it difficult to be nice, how being nice is perceived as being weak and so on. This goes on for about an hour.
During this entire conversation, we haven’t touched our phones, haven’t referred to other articles, haven’t Googled and the discussion feels satisfying and complete.
In the maze of whatsapp, messengers, texts and “Sent from my Smartphone; ignore the typos” making conversation is difficult. Meaningful conversations don’t have to last forever but they have to have the ability to make you think.
So, what makes conversations meaningful?
Keep it real, sincere and genuine
I was chastising Roop for her continuous crib sessions and suddenly she asks, “Is this why you don’t like me? “. I am genuinely at a loss for words! She goes on “I feel that we don’t work well together because you don’t like me. So I try to stay closer to the timelines and am extra prompt about each detail; so there’s no cause for concern later”. “So just say so Anu! I feel stressed when I am working with you.” Today, Roop and I get along like a house on fire. It’s interesting to see how sharing your struggle with the person that you are struggling with opens windows that you never thought existed. I respond with, “And that’s exactly what puts me off! Everything you do is so mechanical and measured, that I am unable to stay focused. I don’t want to worry about repercussions when I am working”.
Remember that there are at least two people in a conversation
I had organized a training program for some of our senior folks. The training didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. At the end of the session, one of them called it out and said that this program could have been a one day affair too, and that there was no need to block 3 days for it! This didn’t go down well with me and I went on to talk about the essence of deep learning and taking it slow and so on. My manager spoke to me on this later and said, “Anu, your deep learning happens when you give others the space to have opinions too. You need to learn how to make this insight meaningful for you”.
Conversations have a magic to them; you don’t realise when you are already having one.
But for when you do realise that you are knee deep in one, keep this handy. Stick to the real and don’t force your opinion onto others! Every conversation isn’t about agreeing or disagreeing.