Examine a brand new balloon. It just sits there, flat and empty. Now compare a balloon you’ve blown up to one filled with helium. If you put the one you blow up on a table it will sit still until the air around it moves and then it will move. If you throw it up in the air it will sink to the ground. The helium balloon is not like that. No matter where you place this balloon, it will rise to the sky unless it is anchored. The contents of the three balloons make them respond differently to the environment. A new balloon is lifeless before air is injected into it. A balloon you personally blow up is mobile with help. A helium balloon has the potential to soar. Conversations are like air with the potential to lie dormant, bobble around, or soar. Our goal is to bring them to a place of soaring, but how?
Why do you talk?
It is estimated that women speak 30,000 words per day. Now whether this number is accurate or not is beside the point. The point is, we use a lot of words every day. What are we saying and why are talking? What’s the point?
Conversations are about anything and every thing. For my purposes today, I’m not talking about all the times we give directions to our children about their homework, or even the words we use when we ask questions about a trip or what’s for dinner. I want to look at the times we sit with another person, eye to eye, talking about important things.
Pretend with me for a moment that you are going to a gathering with people you know well. You’ve arrived early and are sitting on the sofa in your friend’s house. Your friend is in the kitchen putting the finishing touches on dinner.
You’re sitting on the sofa and your best friend is in the kitchen. This is a dormant conversation. There is potential for interaction, but it hasn’t taken place yet. Your friend comes in to the room and asks you how you’re doing. Your response is fine, how are you? She says fine and remembers she needs to check the roast in the oven and leaves the room. This is still a dormant conversation. There is nothing bad or wrong about it. It just sits there waiting to be inflated.
Your friend returns from the kitchen and sits down to visit with you. The niceties are repeated and you ask your friend how she’s doing with the situation she shared last week that is troubling her. She says fine and hears a knock on the door. She excuses her self to let in more guests. This conversation is bobbling. A warm hand was extended and quickly interrupted. Your job is to remember you asked the question again when the time is right otherwise this conversation which had potential to soar will revert back to dormant.
All the guests have arrived; you eat dinner, visit for a while and watch for an opportunity to talk with your friend again. After everyone leaves, you and your friend sit on the sofa talking about the evening and how much fun you had. Then you ask your friend again how she is doing with the issue she is struggling with and she responds by telling you where she is having success and where she is failing. The two of you are talking eye to eye, both listening and offering insights to the subject at hand. This conversation is soaring. The dormant and bobbling conversations are important and necessary otherwise we will never get to know a person well enough to have soaring conversations but we must not mistake the dormant and bobbling conversations for soaring ones. For a conversation to soar the heart must be engaged.
Conversations are more than words being passed from one person to another. We ought to aim for conversations that soar but we must also be patient as we have dormant and bobbling conversations knowing that these are necessary if we are ever to have conversations that soar.
Why do you have conversations?
How do you start them?
Do you see them as opportunities or hindrances?
Share THE story.