We never used to be like this. We would seek each other out and look to see what the other person was up to before launching into a conversation or sharing something that we’d just heard on the radio. It was enjoyable and whole.
Like eating an apple after washing it; it was a slow and complete action. First choosing the apple from the bag, looking at it in anticipation, feeling it to test for bruises and understanding what bits to avoid. Then, really savouring the explosion of flavour and juices swirling and even escaping from my mouth; being in the essence and joy of life! Quite often, I would say “How lucky are we to have this great produce?” and mostly always I would be aware of the refreshing energising benefits a crisp juicy apple can bring – like feeling more alert almost instantly!
Sadly, our everyday conversations have changed. Instead of being present first, we call out from another room with urgency and insistence. We speak before we know even if the person is in that space, available, alert, ready to listen. We show no respect for what they might be doing, thinking or feeling. Our conversations have become reactive and not considered – more like a game of fruit ninja, where the apples (and other fruit) land in a random pattern and which demand attention now. Inevitably, however, instead of enjoying an apple, there is so much going on at once the ‘player’ accidently slices through a bomb which explodes.
A well intentioned conversation can get out of control quickly if we don’t spend a few moments to assess the situation before saying what we feel is important and urgent. It’s time wasting to speak before the person is listening, it’s rude to speak while they are engaged with another activity and we’ve simply ‘forgotten’ that they would be doing that. It’s hurtful because the other person simply feels that they are always being interrupted.
In 2013 I’ve committed to walking first, locating second, observing third and speaking at last. I’m hopeful this will bring more satisfying and wholesome interactions at home… which is exactly where my Best Practice needs to happen. How will you engage in conversations with your loved ones this year?