Recently a friend called me for a conversation while waiting for a doctor's appointment. That wouldn't have been a problem if the call was to relay information. But the purpose of the call was to discuss how we could understand each other better. Some defensiveness had crept into our conversations, and we had planned to talk about how we could change that.
I wasn't sure whether to attempt to have this delicate discussion under these circumstances, but after a few preliminaries, I dove in to what I had been struggling to say to her. About 45 seconds after I started, she interrupted me to tell me she needed to go because the doctor was ready.
This is not the way to have an intimate conversation. Fortunatley, we spoke later in the week under better circumstances, and it went well.
More recently yet, a group of my friends and I planned a New Year's visioning discussion. One of the members scheduled a handy man at the same time. She was texting, couldn't get where she could receive a strong signal, and clearly was distracted. This is not the way to have an intimate conversation either.
I once had a mentor who multi-tasked when we spoke. I asked him what the noise I heard was, and he explained he was sortng poetry.
When I spoke with my current mentor about conversations in uncondusive situations, he remarked:
- When you call me, my candle is lit and I'm all yours.
I like the metaphor. Lighting a candle invokes a tone—a mood—that is condusive to tender feeling, safety, and a lack of defensiveness. It sends a signal that you are giving yourself to whatever activity or conversation you are embarking on.
So next time you have a valued conversation, you may not need to light an actual candle, but light a metaphorical one. Create a situation where if you said,
- My candle is lit and I'm all yours
they would feel it.