Talk to Connect

This post appears on The Communication Blog, the blog by Dr. Joseph A. DeVito, Hunter College professor and author of multiple communications textbooks and articles. I thank Dr. DeVito for allowing me to guest post on his valuable blog.

talk to connect, importance of communication, talk too much?, connecting through talkI like to talk. I talk to connect and get closer to people. What I’ve realized is most people like to talk – and talk a lot. People talk. A lot. Connecting is human and talking is still our most genuine way of connecting. In a world with changing personal contact, where interactions through technology reign, talking is still a precious gift to join hearts and minds with others.

Over the years, I’ve had to grin through painful comments about my talking, sometimes disguised as jokes, other times delivered more directly. Some close friends may comment endearingly but I’ve received critical, judgmental and hurtful remarks. Yet, as rude and cutting as it feels, such frank statements make me think.

I’m open-minded and I work to be a better person each day, to challenge myself to improve in myriad ways and I take the time to self reflect. In truth, I am hyper-aware of telling a story too long or of the conversation tipping in my direction. I’m ultra sensitive to when someone has asked me so many questions that it seems I’m doing all the talking so I work to redirect the conversation toward them. I notice when I’ve gotten excited and interrupted a friend’s story, but then I apologize and return to where she left off. women talking, talking with friends, she talks too much, talks too fast, talkative friends, talking over coffee, coffee circle

I not only observe how I interact, but I also witness how those around me converse. Turns out, women, in particular, talk over one another as a routine. Watch any group of girl friends together and you’ll see it’s a usual and accepted chatting style, and somehow, everyone talks and everyone’s heard. Though, it’s also not the only way women talk together.

Equally often, we share the floor, rotating around, hearing stories, nodding, commenting, asking questions, listening more. Then another person picks up and her story has our attention and focus until it’s the next person’s turn to chime in with a tale.

One particular night after someone blithely made a comment to me about how much I talk, I swallowed and forced a polite smile, and became completely silent.  I sat mute, watching, surveying, listening, contemplating. Throughout the evening, I paid attention as everyone took a turn dominating the conversation, talking “too much” and going on and on.

Every single person talked and talked at some point and not one talking-person turned to include or invite in another while she was front and center. The talker talked. It’s what we do, it how we affiliate ourselves with a group, it’s how we belong and how we bridge space and grow friends.

moms with toddlers talking, trying to talk with toddlers, playgroup talks, toddler playgroups, making friends with new moms, new moms support groupsThe truth is, I do like to talk and if I’m not talking much it’s likely that I’m not engaged enough to build a relationship. But, the truth is, I also like to listen and I’m a good listener. Listening is the other half of connecting. I welcome the words from my friends, acquaintances, and even strangers in the check out line and I care about what is going on in others’ lives.

My husband teases me because no matter where I am, people open up to me and tell me intimate details of their lives. This happens so often that it’s become unremarkable when I tell him the life story of someone I crossed paths with that day. I’ve heard all about divorces from a car mechanic complete with details of clothes thrown out the window, I’ve heard about the journey to adoption waiting for the fish guy at the supermarket, I’ve learned of a woman’s struggle with cancer while sitting in a waiting room, the drugstore clerk confided that he quit drinking and I’ve heard countless birth stories from strangers and friends alike. I listen.

In social circles, I listen. I bear witness to friends’ stories, hear their pains and celebrate their triumphs. I listen with compassion and I remember. I remember to ask a friend about a procedure scheduled for their child, how their fundraiser went or how they like their new yoga class. I remember my friends’ birthdays and the anniversary of their Dad’s death. I care deeply, I express it in touch, notes, presence and, yes, talking.

I have a funny sense in my being that feels dishonest when I don’t offer details, when I’m not explaining something fully, when I don’t share totally. It’s as if I’m in a movie where two characters meet, each having information the other needs but not telling one another. I think sometimes I talk more because it feels more honest to that quirky thing in my heart. outside talking circle, friends talking in grass, teens talking, talking with teens, helping teens make friends, she talks too much, laughing at yourself, painful criticisms, hurtful comments,

And sometimes, I wonder if I’m perceived as talking more than others because I talk really fast (and even faster if I have any caffeine). Or maybe it’s because I initiate dialogues, or speak with energy and animation (and maybe a little loudly). I’m bold, happy, enthusiastic and so I gush and effuse.

I’m candid, unreserved and unafraid to articulate what’s in my soul. So maybe I do talk a lot, maybe I do talk more than others, but it’s who I am. It’s how I relate, it’s how I embrace, envelop, offer, share and give. If I’m talking with you, I’m giving you a piece of myself and I’m open for receiving a piece of you, too, when you talk with me.

 

Wells Fargo advertisement about conversation:
They can be impassioned. Funny. Enlightening. Or inspiring.
They can open doors. And build relationships.
Some can even change the world.
At Wells Fargo, we believe you should never underestimate the power of a conversation.
It’s how we learn. How we grow. And how ideas spread.
It’s at the heart of everything we do.

© Copyright Leah DeCesare 2012

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9 Responses to Talk to Connect

  1. Danielle says:

    Love it! Way to hit it nail on Leah! I love how brave you are, and how you will just hit an issue face on. I adore you, and I’ll admit, I was overwhelmed by you when I first met you but now I appreciate who you are and I think it’s fabulous that you wrote such an eloquent article about being true to yourself. I just wish we had more time to talk than the 30 seconds between tennis games!

  2. Thanks Leah for being so vulnerable in a world where everyone protects themselves. It allowed me to know you a little deeper and I promise not to joke about your talking or fast talking (I love that about you too) anymore. I am grateful to know you and be your friend. I am both intimidated and in awe of your boldness and wish I was more bold. (working on it) Love you always, your Friend Sev

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  6. Jill Lynch says:

    As a recipient of those birthday cards every year for almost 40 years, I so love you for EXACTLY who you are! When someone assesses another person’s actions, it has more to do with their own personal fears than it does the person they are critiquing. Be true to yourself, and everything else will fall into place in your life exactly the way it is supposed to! xxxooo

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