17th December 2014, Prismacolor pencils on A3 cartridge paper
There was a team activity I was part of that involved a rope laid out on the grass. The rope was ‘The Spectrum’ and we had to place ourselves along it in response to some questions. The idea was to see what kind of team dynamics we had, as well understand each other better and learn from each other. Questions included: morning or night person, introvert or extrovert, task-oriented or people-oriented. One question was: Do you prefer deep conversations or lighter ones?
I was way at the deep conversation end. Some people are more comfortable with light conversations like the weather, shopping, and what you did on the weekend. I’m more comfortable with deep conversations like the meaning of life, what shapes people, and your hopes and dreams. A fellow deep conversationer turned to me and said, ‘What do you think about the complexities of the universe?’ Brilliant! I wanted to stop the activity so we could discuss it. Why can’t all conversations start with a question like that?
I’m bad at small talk. It drains me like water running from a tap into a drain. But I could stay up all night sitting on a couch having a D&M. I’m not interested in surface talk but unfortunately you can’t just go up to people and say, ‘So tell me about your deepest hopes and regrets,’ or, ‘Tell me about your heartaches and the biggest influences in your life.’ I wish I could and it frustrates me that I can’t.
But a good thing that came out of ‘The Spectrum’ was that we recognised the value of both sides of the spectrum. The goal wasn’t to say one side was better than the other or to get rid of one side but to understand that both sides are important in building connections.
This was so helpful for me because it made me think differently about lighter conversations. I used to dismiss them and wished I didn’t have to bother with them. My natural response was to stay in the deep place and let others do the light conversations. Now I know there is a place for both types of conversations and it’s worth us learning to do both because those lighter conversations are a bridge to the deeper ones.
But no matter what type of conversation you prefer, listening is key and something we all can do.