Thursday, August 15, 2013

Silent Conversations

Do you ever have silent conversations with people?

You know, the type of conversations where you're not actually talking to the person, but you create all sorts of theories and ideas about what they probably would say if you talked to them about a particular subject? And from that 'conversation' you base your decision act or not act.

It's actually pretty fascinating to see what conclusions we draw based on the different variables. If it's someone we haven't talked to in a long time (perhaps an ex or a friend we had a falling out with), we may have a silent conversation with them that looks like this:

Me: Hey's been a while...
Them: Yeah...
Me: So, how are things?
Them: Good. Why are you talking to me all of a sudden?
Me: Oh. Uh. I just... you know... wanted to check in.
Them: Oh.

And then you anticipate that you'd feel like a complete moron for having said anything, and so in order to avoid any possibility where you're putting yourself out there... you leave your silent conversation silent and stay far away from having an actual conversation with them. Because, you already know how it's going to turn out, right?

Or, maybe it's someone you're really close to but have gotten into an argument about something. You visualize the way it would all go down if you were willing to bring up the conflict again... and it just doesn't seem worth it. Suddenly you have some unmentionable barrier in the midst of your relationship... but, better to not bring it up than to have that conversation... right?

Sometimes the silent conversations go alarmingly well.
Sometimes the silent conversations go so well that we bulk up on courage and decide to have an actual conversation. I can usually get behind this... unless we're living in denial and have very false illusions for how something is going to go. Then it can just be a disaster.. (like the times my silent conversations lead me to believe that confessing my love to a guy is a good idea...).

What I can't really get behind is the time we spend dwelling on the silent conversations. The time we spend weighing out all the possibilities of what someone might say if we were to approach them. So often we are pretending like we truly know what the other person is thinking, how they perceived a situation, how they will respond to us... and so often we are wrong. And a lot of the time, I'm not sure we ever even know we are wrong...because we've never tried to find out. The silent conversations have silenced us, and so we live life not knowing... because we are scared.

I guess I just don't want us to be people who presume to know what other people are thinking... so much so that we are unwilling to actually find out what's going on in their head. I don't want us to be people who exist with broken relationships because we assume that the other person wants nothing to do with us anymore. I don't want us to be people who over-think and over-analyze to the point where it becomes detrimental in our communication with other people.

At this point in my life, I recognize that too much conflict is a direct result of miscommunication. Too much division comes out of the things we convince ourselves in the silent dialogues.

But we don't know what someone else is thinking, feeling, believing until we ask. We don't know how someone else is perceiving, hearing, receiving until we're willing to have an actual conversation with them about it.

It's unfair to have a conversation with someone when they can't talk back. When they can't speak for themselves. When they can't tell you what's really going on with them.

So, before we go assuming that we know how someone would respond if we were to talk to them about that...or if we were to talk to them at all... let's be willing to actually talk to them about it. Let's be willing to find out what they think. Let's spend less time worried about and making up the silent conversation and let's spend more time invested in the actual conversation (and better yet, the person on the other side of the conversation).

Spend time thinking about the best way to clearly articulate what you are trying/hoping to say, praying for a loving attitude and kind words and pure motives... but don't waste any time creating expectations for how they are going to respond.

Be open for anything.
Be ready for anything.
But don't kill the conversation before it ever begins.

Face the unknown confidently, ready to say what you feel like you need to say and ready to listen to what they feel like they need to say.

Replace the silent conversations with actual conversations... and may reconciliation come.

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1 comment:

  1. Wow. This is good.

    Something I have recently been working on but still struggle with. I lived in a silent conversation for a year until recently I actually had the conversation. I was met with so much love and understanding from that person it melted my cold heart. I left that conversation crying and telling God I was sorry for letting bitterness rule in my heart.

    The hardest thing for me is not even expecting conflict, though I do a lot. It's believing the other person will think what I have to say is insignificant and a waste of their time.