Let’s say that the average person lives for 82 years and eats three times a day. So, in conclusion, that person will eat 89,790 times throughout their lifetime. For instance, if you’re 41 and your family meets once a week, that means you’ve got only 2,132 chances to see them. Very often, this is a much smaller number.
How many times a year do you see your friends?
What about your family?
What about your neighbors?
Who is no longer with you?
This brief visualization will allow you to put the time you’ve got into perspective so that we can benefit from our conversation and the stories that are told. Our finite nature should be an encouragement for us to turn every meeting we have into a revelation that can shake us to the deepest recesses of our humanity.
Try to be
- more mindful about the chances you get to sit at the table with someone instead of just taking a moment for granted.
- present and take advantage of this finite moment and the mystery that your interlocutor is bringing to the table.
Create a manifesto with all the principles or ideas you’d like to use in your interactions so you can get as much meaning from it as you can. Here are some ideas:
- The world will keep on turning as I find myself delightfully busy. I have no need to check on my phone or stare at a screen when I’m in company.
- I get to be assertive. I can speak for myself, watch my words, and care for my body since I can be the world’s greatest gift--but I can also become a weapon of mass destruction if I’m not mindful.
- Stories told by people made of flesh and bone are way better than any fictional story if I let the other person speak and I ask questions and listen attentively to what they have to say.
- One of life’s greatest pleasures is to share some delicious food and listen to sweet music, regardless of whether I’m just having coffee, a sweet, or an entire feast. This moment will never come back and will never be repeated.
- I trust my intuition, and I respect the person in front of me, just as I hope that they will respect and trust me as well. I will be clear about my emotions, speak only the truth, and take good care of the shared stories with me.
- I know that I share much (or little) with this other person. It doesn’t really matter. I’m determined to find out what we have in common or to just create something we both like so we can take advantage of it.
- Silences and pauses are an essential part of any good conversation. There is no need to fill the silence with noise. Awkward moments become shorter and a lot less uncomfortable than we thought they could be.
- All the best conversations have diversity, inclusion, and a little bit of chaos. Everybody can sit at my table.
- To feel my interlocutor’s emotions and build empathy bridges between us is a tool that can make solving a conflict or a misunderstanding much easier.
- Surprises! So many surprises! I can follow the flow of this moment. Where shall it take me?
We encourage you to create a manifesto of your own that mirrors the promises that you’re making to yourself and to all others that you share a meal with. It doesn’t matter if it’s your family you’re with, your friends, or strangers.
Before you stand before another human being, set your intention and grant you complete ownership of your decisions. This is not irrelevant. They are a whole universe, staring back at you--this is not to be taken lightly!
We have a video for you. This is Celeste Headlee, giving you some particular pieces of advice that can be used to create better conversations.
Celeste Headlee. TED Talk. 2015.
LUAN, flowing in conversation.