It took a trashy chic flick to remind me of the benefits to having long conversations. The plot involved a group of women going away for the weekend, lots of booze and some pretty crazy shenanigans but the essence of the film was the relationships between this group of friends. It was only the opportunity for dedicated time together that revived the friendships and reminded them of what’s truly important.
When I say long conversation, I mean those that used to be considered normal. Meeting friends over lunch or hosting a dinner party. Going camping with another family, hiking with your sweetheart or at the very least a long walk without the accompaniment of technology.
This is a space where conversation flows naturally. Difficult subjects are tempered with light hearted ones. Emotions are brought to the surface and conversational topics usually drift without agenda along interesting tangents.
There’s time to tease out the tough topics, to stumble over your words a little and still persist in finding a way to express them. There’s time for the receiver to allow them to land and respond in the same continuous mood and space even if an extended pause is needed.
More often than not after a long conversation, you leave feeling filled up and hopefully understanding the other person better than before even if there were challenges.
The Problems with Short Conversations
We now live in an era of short conversation. Technology has reduced human contact to a series of sound-bytes, stories that flash past in 15 seconds on a screen, acronyms and emojis.
When short conversations become our norm, human connection is reduced to staccato moments, often while multi-tasking.
We are not ‘really there’.
Sometimes we don’t even wait for the person we are conversing with to finish typing a response! We are off checking another platform quickly, putting the kettle on or yelling at the kids before notified of our next message.
I believe it’s impossible within a short, distracted conversation to reach the depth and levels of empathy that long conversations offer.
And it is empathy that connects us so deeply and protects us against loneliness, disconnection, depression and anxiety. In my opinion, long conversations are essential for optimal health and wellbeing.
The Benefits of Long Conversation
- Long conversations allow you to feel safe enough to express your true emotions. We only do this when we don’t feel rushed and when we know the other person is really listening.
- Speaking a complex issue out loud to someone can help enormously in sorting it out in your own head. A powerful process happens when you are given opportunity to verbalise your problem, sometimes it’s all you needed to make sense of it for yourself.
- Listening to another person’s perspective on your own situation when offered out of love can be extremely enlightening. You may realise that the huge mountain you’d created in your head appears like a little speed hump in the eyes of another. A fresh perspective can be useful.
- Hearing someone else talk openly about their life and experiences allows you to see them more fully and have greater understanding for their choices and values.
- A higher chance of resolving differences because of the time available to hash things out with someone. A long conversation allows for the time to get the whole picture and see all the potential solutions for resolution.
- A feeling of understanding another human and they understanding you. This gives us a sense of connection and warmth as well as increased confidence and self-worth when we are listened to and validated.
- An opportunity to hold our boundaries. We don’t need to agree with others on everything. It’s perfectly okay to agree to disagree and hold firm to that while still caring for someone and being able to chat to them at length.
- Long conversations tend to naturally drift into other areas of interest that may stimulate or challenge your thoughts, curiosity, creativity and intellect. It’s a space of huge potential for learning and growth.
So how much time do you spend on staccato short, shallow chit chat (especially online) versus time in deep, long conversation?
Why not schedule some time and invite a friend to have dinner, go on a walk, go away for a weekend. I assure you a big reason that you return feeling ‘filled up’, nourished from the inside will be due to this and not the wine, though the wine may also help!