An Actual ConversationFeb. 6, 2022
When my paternal grandfather passed away in 2001, the pastor told a story at his service:
Arthur wasn’t the kind of person who would gossip. If he had a problem with something you did, he wouldn’t go around town talking about you. No, he would drive out to your home, knock on your front door and say "I need to speak with you". And he’d sit with you at the kitchen table and work out the part that wasn’t working.
Today it’s far more common, among both adolescents and adults, to deal with problems in a different way. When someone says something you don’t like, there are all sorts of ways to ignore, avoid, manipulate, or belittle what the other person has said, usually without interacting with them at all. Technology has made it easier, but it’s not a technological issue. It’s a communication issue. It’s become less common for people to say what they want to say, and more common to hide behind passive-aggressive behavior.
And that’s too bad. Because when we take the time to sit down, look the other person in the eye, and say “I’d like to talk with you and hear from you”, there’s a chance we may experience profound connection. Asking for an honest conversation is not an act of aggression. It’s an act of vulnerability. It takes courage to open up, because there’s a chance the other person will scoff at you, belittle your earnestness, or make a sarcastic comment to maintain their distance and their pride.
But there’s also a chance that your good intentions will reach them and create the space for them to open up, too. “You know what, I’m glad you said something, because I’ve been thinking about this too…”
And that feeling of connection, I’d argue, is so worth it, that it more than offsets the feelings you face other times, when the response is less receptive.
Give it a try:
“This issue matters to me, and you matter to me. Do you have a few minutes to talk about it?"