I was having dinner the other day with two of my friends. Somehow I found myself trying hard to look interested, and trying hard not to yawn. I checked the time every minute, even taking the time to reply each message on my phone, and to drink water. Lots of lots of water.
The reason: simple, the conversation was not stimulating. One of them was dumping complains and more complains and even more complains like a super-hyper-speed-functioning radio, and I was tired of hearing. And as Michael Hyatt said, it was not healthy. If the talking could broken to percentage, it would be: Friend A talked 90 per cent, Friend B talked 7 per cent, and I talked 3 per cent of the total conversation.
And I was, literally, shutting down.
Clearly, the person was trying to talk about her problems, but even when we offered our advice, he wouldn’t listen. Worse, he didn’t even leave us room to talk.
Relationship should be a two-way street, and not one.
A couple of days later, I went out with another group of friends and we talked about anything – games, movies, politics, news, media, work, relationship, views, opinions, ideas, passion, and the list would just go on. After three hours of full-on talking, we realised that our conversation was not yet finished, and we went for desserts. We ended up talking for another two hours.
I went home, exhausted, but fulfilled. I knew a little bit more about my friends, and they knew a little bit more about myself. We shared our stories, experiences, aspirations, and opinions about life. We released knowledge, and got some other knowledge in return.
And I thought to myself, this is what a real conversation should look like.
Let’s now consider another situation.
I was having lunch with a group of friends and I found myself staring at the person in front of me, speechless. There was awkward silence in the table, only the sound of music from my friend’s handphone as he was playing games.
Yep, playing games. In the middle of lunch.
And two other people were super busy tending to their phones, and clearly, I found this, well, annoying. I tried to make small talk and ask questions. Some answers came, but that was it. I thought to myself, I can’t possibly ask you tons of questions like an interview. This is frustrating.
Usually, when this happens, I tried to be busy and played with my own phone. But not this time. I deliberately didn’t even take out my phone even though it vibrated a lot. Because I wanted to know what they would do.
To my utter surprise, they still, for the next I-don’t-know-how-many-minutes, tended to their phones.
I am always willing to take the first steps, but if you don’t want to meet me halfway, what’s the use of a conversation?
And if you are not even interested in talking to me, why bother?
I have always believed that a great relationship happens when you put genuine interest and genuine effort to get to know the other party. It’s when you are investing in your relationship, and investment always involves something being released and gained.
It means putting down the phone, asking questions back instead of just answering them half-heartedly, and seriously, put some respect. I still think it’s rude to play games or browsing something on your phone while we are having lunch.