I had just gotten off the phone with a friend of mine after an incredibly deep and tough conversation. I was a listening participant throughout most of the conversation, until, well, I started to offer some observations which in turn translated into my wanting to offer some solutions. This was not unwanted advice. My friend did ask me what I thought. Or so I thought.
I preface this by saying that I went into this conversation with trepidation as it would either go two ways given my friends frame of mind; I was either full of shit, having no idea what I was talking about, or, I made perfect sense. It was a toss of the coin. Ah hell, I dove in.
First mistake …
There were a number of factors that were not in my favour. The need for my friend to purge just as soon as I said; “hello” when I answered the phone. And the fact that we started in a negative deep space, and by that, I mean, there was not going to be any response, not even silence, that was going to cut it. I had nowhere to go. Even if I hung up, I was going to be the smuck.
Now, in hindsight it would have been a really great idea to pause the conversation and chat at another time. I was not prepared for battle, and that’s exactly what my friend was going for. Not a battle with me, but a need to convey what I heard to be the underpinning of the frustrations and fear of living during these COVID-19 endless days of uncertainty.
I get it, we started from a negative deep place for a reason. My friend needed to vent; no, I mean SCREAM. I thought; “Ah yes, this is the effect of COVID-19” – we’re all going mad. This wasn’t my imagination, I had been seeing the effects of this virus escalate over the past many weeks, and as temperatures rise, so does our wits end. There’s no place for us to hide – from ourselves.
You know you’re in deep negative conversation when your friend decides that they are sick of talking about themselves and then say; “You know what your problem is ….? ” I thought, Oh, oh, this just took a turn for the worse.
Understanding where my friend was coming from, I stuck it out.
Second mistake …
I was a willing/unwilling participant in this ‘conversation’ we were having. For everything I have read throughout the years where ‘they’ say; “Don’t take it personally,” guess what, I did. You do. As feeling human beings, you can understand, be compassionate, empathize all you want until someone says; “You know what your problem is …?”
The only way I was going to diffuse this conversation was to bring some laughter into it, and even then, THAT was risky. What the hell, I started to laugh. My friend did too. I was grateful (and relieved).
My intention was to bring the conversation to a positive deep place. Still having the tough conversation, and yet not coming from a place of blame, shame, and all the words that do not serve anyone. More importantly I knew my friend would regret saying them.
I’m not able to say that we ended our conversation from a place of calm, however we did address how we would better approach this kind of conversation in the future. It was important for me to say that although I was understanding of where my friend was coming from, and the frustrations that ensued, I was not ok with a personal attack that really had nothing to do with how my friend was feeling at the time.
During times of additional stress, uncertainty, fear and a general feeling of worry, I feel it’s helpful to be cognizant of how we want to have and approach conversations. When we’re involved in deep conversations, we should consider approaching it from a positive rather than a negative mindset.
The choice is yours.