Hey, I’m talking to you!
Of course, you don’t need to listen to me. In fact, we don’t really need to talk at all. And yet, we will.
People communicate with each other for the purpose of sharing ideas and information as well as influencing each others’ opinions. I find the motivation behind the majority of all communication to be purely in its enjoyment. This enjoyment is often exhibited by the all familiar form of communication known as the conversation.
Conversation is the ultimate form of communication. Every good thing starts with one. A friendship begins with discussing common interests and a life changing realization is triggered by a serious conversation with oneself. Mastering this causes autism to be nothing more than a diagnosis on a piece of paper.
Asperger syndrome affects behavior. Our behavior is how we communicate with the rest of the world. If our behavior and choices are hindered, then our communication won’t effectively express our thoughts and feelings. Fortunately, we all have the ability to modify our behavior in degrees.
A failure in communication is not any one person’s fault. Communication is always a two-way street. It takes one person to express himself and another person to listen. A performer is nothing without his audience.
Let us compare conversation to a dance. It takes two to tango, doesn’t it? Other people may cut in, but a dance ultimately has two players; one talking and one listening. Dancing is meant to be enjoyed and can only be accomplished if both dancers are communicating effectively.
You don’t have to be incredibly skilled at dancing to enjoy it. Just enjoy having someone to dance with.
Mind Your Surroundings
Conversation is circumstantial. It can only take place if conditions allow it to blossom. First, you need people to talk to. Second, you need a location and enough time to spare being in that location. Third, you need to be free from interruptions.
1. People: Seven billion people populate this planet. It’s very likely you will meet a few of them in the course of your life. Specific circumstances, controlled or uncontrolled, will determine the people you will meet. The different types are broken into intentional and unintentional groups. You can choose to take a bus to visit the friend you want to see, but you can’t choose who will be riding with you along the way. Your family and your co-workers talk with you whether you like it or not. Friends become friends because you intend to talk with them.
2. Setting: Your voice needs to physically reach a person in real-time for an actual conversation to exist. Both people must be planted in the same moment in time whether they are sitting down or walking beside one another. Everyone has restrictions to how long they can stay in one spot together. We all need to sleep and eat eventually. The nature of a conversation changes according to how much time you think you have with someone. Sometimes a simple hello is all you can fit in before you have to say goodbye.
3. Environment: Not every place you go will be conversation friendly. Your attention is constantly being lured away by every moving object and noise you pick up. Also, the type of conversation you have changes whether you are in public or private. You may not be able to control the world around you completely, but you have the ability to choose your surroundings. Look for locations offering you the greatest amount of freedom.
Much Ado about Something
A conversation is a living thing. It’s born, it lives, and then it dies. They can be good or bad, mediocre or meaningful. It’s up to you to decide what kind of contribution you wish to make in your conversations.
1. The “I”, the “You”, and the “Me Too”: You can’t talk with someone unless you have something to talk about. What should you talk about? Someone has to take the lead in a dance. Any conversation can only truly be about two things. It’s either about you or about them. Think back on your previous conversations. Did you say the word “I” more than you said “you?” Conversations are about our relation with ideas and people. How can we relate to others if we are so focused on ourselves? Try speaking to other people as if they are more interesting than you once in a while. And be careful not to add in a “me too” in the mix. If someone wants to talk about themselves, then let them. Butting in with a “me too” makes it look like you only care about things if they relate to you on some level.
2. Flow: The type of dance is determined by the music playing. Conversation has its own rhythm and you must learn to run with it. Fighting to control it makes the dance chaotic and less than pleasant. Each step needs to make sense and lead somewhere. Going off on a tangent is welcome, but it has to make sense. You don’t stop a tango mid step and break into square dancing. Get a feel for where the conversation is naturally heading and move with the beat. You’ll lose your dance partner if each of you is dancing to a different tune.
3. Knowledge: What should your topic be on? It doesn’t matter. Talk about something you know. You can’t waltz if you haven’t learned the steps. A conversation keeps flowing as long as you continue to contribute to it. It also has to be interesting. Your dance will fail if you run out of moves or if your moves are stale. Charge into your conversations fully equipped. Know things. Have opinions. Ask questions.
Not every person you will speak to is going to be special to you, but you can always strive to make your communications meaningful. We participate in chitchat because we want to enjoy each others’ company. We long to hear more than our echo. All people need to connect with others on some level. Good luck finding a suitable dance partner.