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Have you ever sat down with an elderly parent and tried to have a conversation?
It can be difficult to find common things to talk about, because both of you are in a different world space. Most often what is needed is the art of listening. But it also requires knowing how to start a conversation.
Communication is about sharing our thoughts and feelings, as well as what may be currently happening in the world, involving some kind of interchange or conversation. We send and receive messages as we talk about our wants and needs.
Many times, however, our conversations with loved ones end up in misunderstanding or hurt feelings.
- What do I say?
- How can I encourage conversation?
- Does my body language mirror my words?
- Am I prepared to listen and understand the other person’s world from their perspective?
This is important not only for the divide between younger people and elderly parents, but with anyone we have discussions with.
Our worlds are different. We have different experiences. We see the world differently. What may seem true to one person may not to another.
Finding a way to share ideas and listen to alternative ones with respect is critical for friendships and relationships.
Communication is a process.
It is circular and non-verbal. When our communication is ineffective we feel as though we are not understood. When communication breaks down between those we love, relationships begin to unravel.
Communication is carefully listening to another and involves body language that says we are here together.
We need people.
We need to share ideas and perspectives – our joys and laughter – our pain and sorrows. We need effective communication to solve problems, share different views and ideas.
Anything worth having or accomplishing is based on communication of some kind. We miss so much because we lack the skill of asking or sharing new ideas or finding out how the other is doing.
The joy of relaxed conversation
After returning from a seven-day river cruise I took with a long-time friend, I reflected on the joy of that trip.
Besides the relaxation, new scenery, and exciting day trips to places never before visited, wI enjoyed meeting and talking to the people who were on this cruise.
We met people from all over the United States and Canada and even Australia. As we sat for dinner or a glass of wine, we talked and shared about where we lived, places we have traveled, our interests and backgrounds.
Over the course of a week, we would bump into each other at various places on board, laugh and joke and at times, share phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Most cell phones were turned off since we had entered another country. But we found we didn’t need them except to take pictures.
How fun it was to talk face-to-face, see expressions and hear reflections and excitement in conversations.
I had to ask myself, had life become so hectic that it took going on a cruise to find time to sit, relax and talk with another person for a few minutes?
How sad that in today’s world, conversations seem to be fast sound bites texted to one another.
How many wonderful moments have we missed by not taking time for those casual but meaningful conversations, with laughter and sometimes intense discussion.
In his book, Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, Eric Greitens, a former Navy Seal, quotes Antiphon (Fifth Century BC).
“There are people who do not live their present life; it is as if they were preparing themselves, with all their zeal, to live some other life, but not this one. And while they do this, time goes by and is lost.”
We get so busy making a living that we don’t take time to live.
Living is creating meaning in our life through the friendships we make and preserve as well as our work. It is finding time to play and enjoy each other’s company.
Antiphon died 2,500 years ago. But his words still resonate as we reflect on how we can live a more meaningful life.
Conversations are one way.
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