Sunday, March 28, 2010

Let's Talk


If there's one thing I've grown to value more than almost anything else the past two years it's conversation.  I love to talk whether in person, through e-mail or my blog .  I tend to want to get to know people beneath their surface and I've been fortunate to be able to do this, through tremendously personal discussion in some cases.

I've learned that conversation is more about listening than talking.  It can be incredibly rewarding and I believe it's an essential part of our growth; sometimes it's easier to see ourselves through others.

I'm not perfect, but these are rules I've set for myself that I always strive to follow...

-Talk less and listen more.  Ever have a conversation with someone who seems anxious for you to finish what you're saying just so they can talk?  Doesn't show much consideration for the other person does it?
-Be less willing to offer an opinion and more willing to lend an ear.
-Look whomever you're talking to in the eye, give them all of your attention.
-If you don't understand something, ask.  Don't skim over it, it will only hinder your understanding of the person you're speaking with.
-Never de-value what someone tells you about themselves.  You have no idea how significant a part of their lives it may be or what it took for them to share it with you.
-Keep an open mind.  You may not agree with what they're saying, but try to see life through their eyes.  It'll better enable you to understand why he/she feels the way they do.
-Give of yourself first, do it willingly and for the right reasons. Never expect anything back. Be genuine, you'll be surprised at what is returned to you in time.
-Never tell someone to trust you. It's unnecessary for those who know you, the rest you have to prove yourself to.  Trust can't be demanded, it has to be earned.
-If you feel the need to repeat something that someone has told you in private conversation, check with them first. It may be more personal than you think.
-If you're about to start a sentence with the words, "I'm not supposed to tell you this but..." don't.  You're betraying someone's confidence. 
-When someone confides in you never repeat it, ever.  Die first. I can't emphasize this enough.
-Don't pretend to know how someone feels.  We can understand, but we can rarely KNOW what someone's going through.
-If they're upset let them express it.  Don't stifle or diminish somebody's feelings. Feel empathy but not pity, most people want to be understood not felt sorry for.
-If someone doesn't want to continue a conversation, respect that.  Don't force anyone to swim in deep waters if they don't want to.
-Be patient.  Someone may not want to open up to you today, this month or even this year.  Realize that we all fight something and some of us need to do it alone, if he/she doesn't want to talk to you about it it's not always personal.
-If you encourage somebody to be open with you, be prepared for what they tell you because it won't always be what you want to hear.  Being a friend isn't about just dealing with the good stuff.
-If you tell someone you'll be there for them, then be there.  Even when it's not convenient.  Lending your shoulder to lean on means you'll feel the weight sometimes but the rewards far outweigh the bruises. 
-Realize you can only provide direction, you can't fix people or their situations.  (This is something I struggle with).
-If you've told someone they can ask you anything, be ready to answer their questions.  What they ask won't always be comfortable, but some people genuinely want to get to know you.



  1. I love this great post. If I've learned anything these past 4 months is the importance of "communication". Especially the part of listening more and talking less.

    So many good things.

  2. Great advice...I really need to work on practicing the bit about "I'm not supposed to tell you this but...". Thanks for that...maybe this post will pop up in my head the next time I head in that direction.

  3. this almost read out of my text for human services. I took some entry classes for social work and so many of these were the hilights of communication! I whole heartedly agree with it all! I also struggle with the one you struggle with :). You are an amazing person!

  4. This is such a fabulous post, I read it over and over again. I think I am guilty of some of the above but will for sure now know how to be a better listener. Thank you for this. I never really think of things like this....

  5. Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy...I left you a comment on this on your other blog. :)

  6. These are great tips, Barry. And I know this is excellent advice coming from you. You are such a great friend, with one of the reasons being you are a terrific listener. You always offer your shoulder for someone to lean on, which I find so sweet. It is a rare quality.

    I hope you had a wonderful weekend. xoxo

  7. I have to agree. I too like conversation. Personal or via email. I try to listen but I'm sometimes also to quick to talk or maybe jugde sometimes. Maybe I should work on that a bit. :)

    Hope you've enjoyed your weekend!!

  8. What great advice you give! There are many people out there who could benefit from reading this list. And one that was beautiful to me?

    Being a friend isn't about just dealing with the good stuff.

  9. I bet you are a great friend. At least you are in blogospher! Having a conversation with a friend who is low is one of the hardest thing in friendship - it's some kind of test that you go through each time you try to listen and advise. It took me a long time to learn that my opinion may not be the best one and actually may not be needed at all. Sometimes ppl even strangers need a shoulder to cry on.

    Hope you are having a good beginning of the week!

    bisous bisous!

  10. Lovely post. In my mind its what blogs are for, to communicate - I didn't/don't necessarily write mine for people but as its open there's a choice there. Maybe every blog is a story.

    I like your rules a very good set, must try and use them myself more! As they reflect some things I'm thinking at the moment!

  11. good conversation is a blessing isn't it?

    and barry, oh barry you played me some Coldplay... love!!!


  12. The best days I have are when I'm out with good friends talking. These are great rules to abide by & you get that connection to people that ohh I think we all crave ever so much! =)

  13. Barry;

    What an incredible post.
    It has left me meditating abut the whole spectrum of having a conversation.

    BTW..Whose image is that? I love the dreamy element it carries.

  14. Lovely. I struggle a lot with not expecting anything back. Such great advice!

    xo, Sophia