Talking “To” vs Talking “Too”
Talking “To” vs. Talking “Too”
Did you ever have a conversation with someone (other than a paid psychologist) that you walked away from feeling great about life? And when you reviewed that conversation in your head, you couldn’t put your finger on a specific thing they said that made you feel that way? That happened to me last week and I’m still mulling it over.
One of the things I do to help fund my never-ending need for food and a roof over my head, is writing some short articles for my local Chamber of Commerce’s newsletter. I love writing, but more than that, I love interviewing new people and finding out what makes them tick. Chase Tyler is a new employee of the Chamber, in charge of Workforce Coordination. In short, he helps synchronize the efforts of local businesses, the local school district, and the local community college district as they develop the workforce of tomorrow.
I arranged a morning interview with Chase at the local bakery. It provided enough privacy for our interview along with good coffee and some dietary items to help maintain my girlish figure. Before the interview, I’d emailed Chase a set of questions so he wouldn’t be caught off-guard. Things went great until the second question, when he indicated that I had referenced an author he wasn’t familiar with. That’s when the interview went off the rails and that’s when the meeting went from me asking canned questions to two guys just talking and having an absolutely fantastic back-and-forth discussion.
I walked away from that interview, knowing everything I needed for an article about Chase. But, more than that, I walked away having connected with another human being who is really someone I’d like to know better. I walked away feeling good about life, and as a middle-aged pessimist, I was forced to stop and analyze how a single conversation could make that happen.
Somehwere in the middle of talking about our families, our upbringing, our careers, our history … that “you too?” light went off in my head and I realized here’s another person as apparently different from me as could possibly be and yet, we have stuff in common – important stuff! That was a large part of what impacted my mindset but that was only a part. The other thing I realized is that I had just spent an hour with someone who was actually listening to me as much as I was listening to him. We were not engaged in a competition where we had to one-up each other and neither of us was looking for an opportunity to Google something the other one said and prove them wrong. We were COMMUNICATING.
I’m currently reading a book titled, “Trust” by one of my favorite authors, Henry Cloud. He talks at length about the point in a relationship where we begin to move from “Guarded” to “Open”. With some people, that comes easily. With others, not so much. The ones with whom it comes easy, are the ones who seek to understand rather than to be understood. They’re the ones who aren’t just listening. They’re hearing. I have one or two longtime acquaintances with whom I’m still in the “Guarded” phase. I just met a new friend with whom, I moved straight to “Open”.
If you’re lucky enough to realize you’re talking “to” someone rather than “at” them, hold tight to that relationship. It’s one of the good ones. Meanwhile, let’s get together for coffee and get past the “guarded” phase. And if you ever find yourself at the Garland, Texas Chamber of Commerce, ask to talk to Chase Tyler — you won’t regret it.
The more clearly we recognize how deep our commitment to self-protection operates in our relational style and the more courageously we face the ugliness of protecting ourselves rather than loving others, the more we’ll shift our direction.
— Larry Crabb
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— Dr. Henry Cloud
Learning who to trust. Learning how to trust. Learning how to be trustworthy. We learned all those things in first grade. Then we spent the rest of our lives unlearning them. Cloud retraces some important ground with fresh insights. Trust me, it’s a book worth reading.
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