We all tend to underestimate the power of conversation. Conversation, though is sounds simple, is no easy task. It comes back to the concept of being vulnerable. Conversation whether it is in regards to a trivial matter as small as asking the waiter for more ketchup, or a more serious matter in discussing your emotions with your partner, in both cases we are setting ourselves up for rejection or potential conflict. As a result, many of us choose to avoid conversation all together. This is our comfort zone, being non-confrontational and closed-off in fear of being “difficult.”
However, something we underestimate is the immense progress and joy we can gain from conversation because, guess what, much of the time that rejection or conflict you fear NEVER HAPPENS. Or, at least it doesn’t happen as dramatically as you might have imagined.
Let’s take the simple example of asking the waiter for more ketchup. Now, if you are anything like me, though I do want more ketchup, I probably would hesitate to ask the waiter with the thought that I would be pestering him. Yes, I know…. Silly. What is the worst that can happen? He doesn’t get me ketchup? He thinks I am a bother? It is unlikely he would come back with a new bottle and hit me with it or something because I suppose that would be the unrealistic and utterly worst case scenario. Conversely, if the conversation was breached and request was asked… Guess what? You might just get what you were asking for no problem, no big deal. Doesn’t that feel better? You got your ketchup free of any injuries to report back home about.
Now, for two more serious examples illustrating the power of conversation we will talk about conversation in work and relationships.
First, let’s consider discussing a promotion with your manager. It is no doubt easier to come into work and perform your typically job day in and day out than to challenge your position and breach conversation with your manager to discuss promotional opportunities. It’s scary! I know. However, in not taking the chance to beginning conversation about opportunities, you will miss out on them. How would your manager ever know what you are interested in doing? What if they just thought you weren’t interested so that is the reason you have not been offered new positions? They are your manager, not a mind-reader afterall. Plus, worst case scenario, again, you will most likely go back to working in your current position, so it sounds like there is not much to lose (Unless your manager is a [Insert your explicit here]). Anyway, the conclusion is that conversations alone can open up opportunities you may not have realized were even there!
In the second scenario, let’s consider discussing a certain way you are feeling with your partner. This can be a feeling that is really not even about them but perhaps it is something difficult in your family that you are dealing with, something at work, something about your current circumstance that is causing you uneasiness, and ultimately, may be influencing your relationship to some degree. Of course, it is easy to get caught up in the thought, “Oh, he doesn’t want to hear about this. I can handle it on my own.” “Oh, I don’t want him to take the way I am feeling the wrong way, so I rather not say.” “Oh, he’s better off not knowing because then he will think I am CRAZY.” We all are. It’s ok. Yes, we will have all of these concerns about sharing out emotions with our partner, but the sad truth is that when things are left unsaid, no matter how minor the issue, it will metastasize until it is something that cannot be so easily repaired. It is sort of similar to that leaky roof you knew needed to be fixed two years ago when it was just a small hole, but now two years and three terrible snow storms later, the damage is more severe and is going to cost much more money than had you have gotten it repaired two years ago. Fix the leaky roof now!! NOW is the time when it is no big deal, it is fixable, manageable, LATER is when it might be too late and may find yourself paying a premium for it. One conversation. It may be all it takes. As a result, you may well find relief, joy and sheer happiness in this expression. You may feel as though a world has been lifted off of your shoulder. After all, that is what a partner is for. To be there for you. Let’s trust that.
Let’s not underestimate the power of conversation going forward. We do not know that we do not know. If you are questioning whether to have an important discussion with someone in your life today, have it! You will feel better that you did, regardless. Good luck!