Yesterday I found myself sitting outside on a terrace enjoying the sun – the heat and feel of summer in the air. I was at a local Italian restaurant, seated outside on the terrace which is elevated from the street below- and so overlooks the busy street below. I was on my own, having lunch, prior to going to a movie- something I love to do on a Sunday afternoon. And as I waited for my order I decided to spend the time making a few notes on articles that I wanted to write.
The week had been a busy one and I had not had time to write my usual number of posts. So this seemed a good time to jot down some of the many ideas that were swimming around in my head. The restaurant was very busy. All the tables were full. I took out my notepad and took a sip of wine, and as I did I reminded myself of how fortunate I am. Just to be able to sit here on a sunny afternoon, enjoying a cool glass of wine and letting the world slip by.
The scene was a busy one! Young families taking a well-earned rest from the household chores! The adults taking time out to chat to one another! Young couples enjoying a daytime date over lunch! And perhaps they too were off to the movies afterwards. And a group of three women – obviously very old or close friends from the laughter and animated conversation that drifted across from their table!
And as I looked around me I smiled. The scene was a highly animated one. Young and old were deep in conversation with family, friends and loved ones! And the combined atmosphere of that felt very loving, very appreciative, very joyous and harmonious!
All of which made me reflect on the power of conversation and its role in connecting us meaningfully in relationships. My gaze went from one table to the next, and brought a smile to my face. It reminded me of something a friend had said to me just the day before…
‘…That relationships consist of one conversation after another and the success or failure of that conversation gauges the success or failure of that relationship over time.’ Dr Susan Scott
The concept really jelled with me. How apt and how true! When we have a good conversational experience with a loved one, we connect at a very deep level. It’s quite simple. We feel appreciated, accepted and loved! As I lifted my glass to my lips and mused a little about the scene around me and the lesson I was witnessing all around my attention was taken to the road below as a brand new Mercedes sports halted at the traffic lights nearby.
The car was obviously a new toy! It glistened in the sunlight! A tribute to both the macho image it conjured as well as the achievements that had surely led to it being acquired! How magnificent I thought to myself. How proud the owner or owners must feel driving round in such a magnificent machine!
And as I did my glance went to the open window of the car, allowing more insight into the lives of the car’s two occupants. A couple in their mid-forties beautifully groomed and coifed. Obviously successful! But their body language screamed a different story!
I was intrigued. I followed as the gaze of the female in the passenger’s seat was firmly fixed on the pedestrians passing by – her pose and facial expression steely – so at odds with the sunny summer’s day and the mood I was experiencing amidst the restaurant diners above.
It seemed clear from the frosty manner in which she surveyed the pedestrians passing by that the atmosphere in that car was far from convivial. There was NO conversation! And from her facial expression it was easy to surmise that the connection between her and her male companion was broken… I could feel the tension between them from the terrace above!
And while I assumed they were husband and wife the very nature of their cool reception to one another indicated that whatever had triggered the desire to ‘go silent’ and to don the steely expressions of disdain was a pattern that was all too familiar to these two.
It took some time for the lights to turn green and for their car and the heavy load it carried to move forward and take its passengers into what promised to be an eventful albeit unpleasant day together. No conversation! No connection!
How does it happen that two people can share a ride together on a beautiful sunny day in one of the world’s ultimate driving machines, and feel such disdain for one another…? What does it take to endure such a frosty ride together?
One conversation failure? Or many? Of that couple you and I will never know.
From my experience working with couples I do know that one conversation failure is not JUST ONE conversation failure! It’s potentially the beginning of an unhealthy pattern, and if not dealt with becomes a pattern that slowly but surely signals to one or both partners that there are topics or issues that are not open for discussion let alone dealt with. And as conversations shut down so do the paths to connection.
Don’t let this happen to you. Learn the keys to successful conversations and to strategies that open up the hard to deal with topics. Conversations are one of the ways we connect meaningfully with one another.
Successful conversations build trust! Deepen relationships and enable intimacy to grow!
Learn how to have healthy conversations with your partner, ones that deepen the relationship so that it can go from good to great! Or from sagging to bragging! And have fun in the process!