The art of conversation

When was the last time you had a good conversation? I mean a really good conversation.

What makes a good conversation? This really depends on the person or people who are talking. Everyone’s ideal could be completely different. You can do courses, read books, go to seminars, and practice practice practice until your tongue is bleeding and ears are throbbing, yet still conversation can be tricky at times for some people.

My conversation skills went down the gurgler after I became a mum. My husband was working long hours, my at home conversation was limited to baby/ toddler talk, and when I did meet up with other parents. Conversation was always peppered with “Watch out.”  “Hang on”. “Not so many.” “Turn around.” “Are you ok?” “Poo?” “Oh we have to go now.” Times that by two if you are conversing with one other parent, times by three if there are three of you etc etc. Conversations are left hanging, statements are left unchallenged and you just do the best you can in the crucial few seconds you get together to talk.

At home, husband gets back knackered from work, you are so starved of adult conversation- so blurt out a whole days worth of stored up conversations from your head in the space of one minute. Words roll out quicker than a toilet stop in an Indian street diner. Kids haven’t seen Dad all day and excitedly do the same.

Public speaking? I would  rather eat my own elbow… At no point has public speaking been a comfortable place. I know for a lot of people public speaking can be tricky. Sweaty palms, talking too quietly, talking too fast, fidgety fingers, saying the wrong things, mental blanks…

Mental blanks, now there is something that went hand in hand for me on becoming a Mama. Along with being starved of adult conversation, your brain turns to mush. No really it does. Those lovely hormones rolling around your body that let you concentrate on making this baby and then bonding with this baby when born, turn everything else to mush. Anything not crucial and to do with that babies welfare gets pushed to the side lines waiting to be retrieved when ever possible at a later date. It could be weeks, months or even years before those brain cells make their way back to where they can be used again. Frequently I would be conversing, saying something I felt really passionate about, I had the floor, the attention was mine and…. I would forget.

Just like that. Mid sentence and my thoughts have fled. No idea what so ever in what I was talking about. That’s fine if you are with another brain-cell-on-holidays mama that can identify with it as she has had her own fair share of cell withdrawals, but for someone that hasn’t had this happen, they look at you like you are quite nutty. How the hell can you forget what you are talking about when YOU are the one talking?? Sometimes I found it really frustrating, but the second time around, I just thought… ah, well…next time….wonder what I was talking about?…oh what a cute little baby he is.

My hat certainly gets taken off to any parent that can be sleep deprived, breastfeeding, juggling older kids and still able to hold their own in a corporate meeting, engage in conversation about up to date world politics or competantly do anything that involves words longer than milk and poo.

It came to a point when I was in a social setting where I had been so starved of conversation for a period, that I put about a months worth of words into the space of 20 minutes. My tongue was on speed and it wasn’t pretty. I left the gathering exhausted and thinking, “What the hell was that!!”

Vowing not to let that happen again, I slowed down. I listened, really listened, I thought about what I was going to say, I reflected and then responded.

It made a difference. Suddenly conversations were easier again. I didn’t have to blurt everything out in seconds, scared that this was my only chance to voice my thoughts while The Monkeys were distracted and I had someones attention. And if I do forget to say something, or get distracted or just simply think of something else to add, well this is where the wonders of technology come in, I can text, email or phone my add ins. As The Monkeys get older, the brain cells are slowly making their way back to an almost functioning level of competence. It sneaks up on me, as I excitedly realise that I just managed a WHOLE conversation, remembered what I was talking about, didn’t get interrupted by kids, and engaged in a discussion….

…and I like that.

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5 thoughts on “The art of conversation

  1. Sounds like you are coming out the other side of something 😉 Listening hard over here, I haven’t had the children experience but I know many people who say the same as you. I have a butterfly brain sometimes and it just stops paying attention to what the other is saying and flts off almost randomly following some trival thought. I have to consciously practise reciprocal question asking. The urge to just blabber on about my own stuff takes over and I have to come to a halt, and say, whoah, ask the other person, give them a turn. So I practise when I dog walk. I meet the same people and we pick up a little conversation as we stroll around under the trees. I think today was ladybird identification, the cost of house painting and other random subjects 🙂

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  2. fascinating insight . . will have to catchup and practise our conversations soon. im just resettling into the syd world after capturing 10hours+ of interviews/field recordings from a festival in bellingen over the weekend. my brain had to slowly resettle into normal human conversations again other than in interviewer mode ! 🙂 hope to have a little podcast thing up from another project soon.

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  3. Great blogging,! I’m my own company most of the time, so any converstion is minimal for me also, reading the look on my husbands face when he walks through the door,looking at his tired eyes, depends on how much I converse with him, sometimes less is better!

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