I had two conversations this week. I actually had more than two interchanges with other people over the past 7 days, but two stand out. If an award could be given for being characteristically private, I think I would win first place. I am a very private person. I don’t tell share my deepest thoughts or feelings very easily. My inner circle is small.
In light of that reality, I did something out of character for me earlier this week. I actually shared how an event impacted me emotionally to a friend. That was the first of two significant conversations. This particular person failed to acknowledge what I had just said, and proceeded to take what I shared as a means of turning the conversation around to focus on what was going on in their life. I was stunned. As the day went on, I felt offended and put off. And then I started wondering how many times I have failed to truly listen. And I also asked myself how many times I have turned a conversation around to focus on me. I literally shuttered at the thought. The first conversation didn’t last long, but it made quite an impact on me.
A few days later the second conversation occurred. I stepped out into unchartered territory with an even greater degree of hesitancy and shared the same how the same event had impacted me. The person I was engaged in conversation with had a simple response. It went as follows: “Let’s stay in touch for each other. You know I love you.” That is a straightforward reply. And it’s pretty simple. But I found it to be incredibly affirming. I walked away knowing that I had been heard. I felt a sense of mutuality in friendship. The second conversation didn’t last long, but it too made quite an impact on me.
I have been thinking a lot about presence lately. I am putting my phone in my pocket a lot more. I am trying to practice active listening skills better than ever before. I am trying to catch myself before I “turn” a conversation and make it all about me. And I am realizing that even very brief conversations can make quite the impact on a person’s heart.