I could hear him talking in the distance. He spoke incessantly. He was emotional and upset. Periodically he would get up and walk to and fro across the little bridge that joined the rocks, still speaking.
I walked passed him to make my way along the rocks behind him in order to take some photographs from another vantage point. He smiled at me briefly as I passed by, and then continued talking. It seemed that he was on a business call. If I had to guess, he probably was the boss and was speaking to a subordinate.
He never stopped to listen. He was in a monologue. I felt a little sorry for him since he was caught in a vicious circle of ‘more talk’ that he could not get out of. He was probably trying to resolve a problem, but unfortunately was blocking any other perspective that remained silent behind the other mobile. He was missing out on receiving new information.
Paradoxically, one may speak more if one does not feel heard or understood by others. This is especially true when dealing with complex problems or emotional issues.
It is not easy dealing with challenges in today’s rush, when so much is happening and with so much pressure to complete whatever is at hand. One may feel that there is no time to stop, breathe, think, and listen.
While too much talking may be problematic, so is, too little talking, that is caused by resistant defensiveness or passive aggression.
Human beings are linguistic systems, seeking meaning in whatever is being discussed. In order to generate new information to (re)solve problems, speaking and listening need to flow harmoniously and co-operatively between participants in conversation. Conversation needs space so that there is reflection and consideration to enhance one’s understanding of what is being spoken about.
Dialogue is not about power, control or dominance. Instead it is about intimate, unconditional sharing. As one engages in such dialogue, a meta-perspective is reached. In such a place, all assumptions and perceptions can be examined without any criticism and judgement.
One might assume that dialogue only involves language. However, this is not the case. Nonverbal messages and actions such as a smile, a compassionate look or a gentle touch are all part of the energetic dialogue that unfolds between the participants.
Being able to share perspectives unconditionally with an open mind and heart is the gift of intimate conversation. In this safe emotional place, information and energy can be exchanged effortlessly and meaningfully, without the need to be defensive.