Recently I started seeing a psychologist. The first session was the equivalent of a sewerage truck opening its back end and letting a constant stream of shit into the waste facility. I dumped so much into the first forty minutes, she barely got a word in. What she actually said at the beginning was, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” What she got was a verbal thesis on my experience of cancer, my fears, my thoughts on death and dying, my grief over lost experiences, my complaints about the discomfort of treatment and my guilt about how this all impacts negatively on my relationships with others. All of this aided by an audio-visual demonstration of snot and tears.

Look. I needed to get a few things off my chest.

The next session was more productive. She began a discussion about how I would like to live. Tricky bitch. I see what she did there and I approve.

She asked me to think about the value that I would like to drive the way I live. I challenge you to think about this for yourself, even if you don’t have an incurable medical condition. Maybe its joy, maybe its freedom, perhaps reflection, care, thoughtfulness, intensity, adventure, optimism…

For me it is connection. I want the time that I have with the people that I love to have purpose and the purpose is, to deepen, strengthen and validate the connection we share. I want everyone I love to know that I love them and that I am witness to their lives as they are to mine. I want to be more fully present when we are together and the thing that I am working on right now is simply having better conversations with people.

I have spent much of my life being excited to share my thoughts on everything. Shamefully, this has been what I thought good conversation looked like. Me talking. Others being entertained or (fake) fascinated. It’s not new knowledge to me that I am an over-talker and a less proficient listener. It’s just that I’ve been talking about being better at listening without doing much about it.

Now I have an urgent and genuine ‘WHY’.

I need to listen and ask questions that reflect my curiosity about that person and how they think and feel because for us to feel connected, they need to feel seen. For us to feel connected, I need to feel that I gave enough in the conversation and that giving isn’t talking. It’s actually asking. And then listening to understand.

I am fully aware that some of you are reading this now and thinking I still have a long way to go. You’re right. I suck a lot of the time. I talk over the top of you. I lose focus. I get defensive. I argue. I correct you. I finish your sentences or worse still, paraphrase my complete misinterpretation of what you have been saying. But this is my project and if I write it down, perhaps you will help keep me accountable.

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10 thoughts on “Better Conversations

  1. I don’t know about this KG, I think you have always had this innate gift to read the room and connect on a deeper level – sometimes the talking just helps masks the stuff we don’t want to be asked so you are just making others feel ok – I say you should consider yourself a master connector!

  2. Wow good on you great to dump your shit let it all out it has to come out no matter how it sounds and how stupid you feel it is the best way to move forward don’t hang on to it let it go so good for keep up the good work love you always my beautiful friend xoxo

  3. We all need to take your advice and think about the value that drives the way we live. Thanks for the reminder Gibbo! BTW, we love being entertained and fascinated, this is also one of your true gifts and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

  4. So beautifully said…I want you to know I’ve been ‘listening’ to you through this amazing place and honoured to be able to do so…but, you can’t possibly know I’ve been listening if I don’t tell you that I am.

    I’m listening xox ❤️

  5. Good food for thought Gibbo – and I admire you for setting yourself this challenge. Consider though, those of us who LOVE to listen to the likes of you and are genuinely fascinated/intrigued/entertained by your narrative. A conversation between two “listeners” could be a little quiet 🙂 But then again, you might actually find the quieter ones open up more?? Perhaps…
    I am dreaming of the day when we can get together to have a good old chat xxxxx

  6. Great blog Christie!

    Listening….actually listening! This is a bloody hard art for all of us! Lots to think about…..

    I hope the chemo is not being too difficult this time around and that you get some deserved results.

    Lots of love

    Silke and Brian xx

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