On Conversation, Mindfulness, and Manners
The other day I left a business lunch with an overwhelming sense of bewilderment. I found that every time I tried to participate in the conversation among colleagues, I was cut off by one person, who then hijacked the conversation. It happened over and over, and when I mentioned it to a colleague later, she said we’d both been talking over each other.
It was shocking since I hadn’t been conscious of it, but I trusted my colleague’s point of view.
Quite a few of us have become so used to the immediacy of electronic gadgets that we forget our manners. Diners ignore each other to read messages that can wait, thus creating a conversation desert. Moviegoers annoy the people around them when lighting up their screens to read texts. People are holding up iPads that block school concerts and blocking the view of parents behind them in the audience. We’re not being mindful of the moment.
We think we’re multitasking, but we’re doing two or more things badly. You can’t listen and watch a person’s face and check your Facebook friends’ status. You can’t carry on a conversation when you aren’t practicing active listening. You can’t think of something witty and pertinent to say if you’re not listening. It’s like a cat chasing its tail.
I was dining out the other day, telling my companion something, and he started checking a dining survey, the bill, adding up the tip, etc. After a few words, I just stopped. I’d become white noise in his ears. Am I that boring? Maybe I do talk too much, and actually should say less.
A friend of mine complains that younger people at his job constantly talk over him, and he finds it infuriating. He’s started just glaring at the person who interrupts, but it doesn’t always work well.
So what do you do when someone constantly interrupts, talks over you, or ignores your conversation? I’m looking for positive spins on this, a nice way to be mindful of good conversation, and the yin and yang of companionship.