Many people want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves. This can come through being involved in a church or other organization that helps others, invents, plans, that in some way helps the world be a better place. Or your community be a better community. Or your neighborhood be a better neighborhood. Or your family be happy.
These times of COVID-19 have made this harder to do. Our chances to work together have been limited, even our “social distancing” has made it difficult to be together, whether working or socializing.
We may have realized how important working and being around other people are to us. We may have realized how much we miss talking with one another, having conversations. We may miss fellowship with other humans
Small talk is a big part of having conversations, which makes connections between people. The best way for us to create a connection with someone is to give them something real to talk to us about. Just a sentence, not a lecture. When asked how things are going. Answer beyond, “Fine.” Maybe, “Fine. I have been reading a great book in my spare time.” Or, “I have been going through old family photo albums.” Or, “My garden is really looking good.” Give a topic that opens the conversation.
It is good for us to be able to make this small talk connection. And it is a nice thing to put people at ease when you meet them. Ask them a question that can lead to an open conversation. Avoid topics that polarize people, that arouses opinions, or that can cause someone to be defensive.
I once had someone ask me, just after being introduced to them, “So, what do you think about abortion?” I have spent the past 40+ years avoiding having another conversation with that woman. As a young person a year out of high school, my answer to her question was simple, “I don’t think about abortion.” I will never forget that moment and how much I hated it. I will never understand why she wanted to make me feel so uncomfortable. I have never trusted her since that moment, those few moments in 1978.
Be friendly when you meet someone and when you start a conversation. Put them at ease. Use their name when you speak to them. Don’t be lazy about using names in conversations. Even on those Zoom meetings that so many of us are being called to now.
We need not be best friends with everyone we come in contact with, nor do we need to be friends with everyone that works with us. But we do need to try and be polite and friendly. We also need to be productive if we’re working and being on good terms will increase our productivity.
It doesn’t mean you need to invite everyone over for dinner. Or to go to the show with you. Just be nice.
When someone tells me what to do, or makes a statement on what they think I am going to do, it irritates me. Quickly. Even those stupid memes on Facebook. “I bet you can’t say you have two ears. I bet you won’t post it.”
You’re sure right I won’t post it … and I’ll hide further posts from you, too.
Don’t tell people what they think or what they will do. And try to stay away from telling people what they should do, unless you’re asked. We get enough lectures from people who we have to hear them from (our doctor, our parents, our boss) that most of us won’t choose to be around someone that jumps right in and wants to join in that elite list of people.
That last paragraph is tough for us when we think we can fix someone’s problem. But it is best if we hush.
Did you know sometimes I write these columns just because I need to give myself a nice little gentle reminder? Yes, that’s what it is. I need to quit being so “helpful” at times.
Sometimes writing it down even helps for a little bit.
We always need to keep improving!
I hope that your time during COVID has given you some moments to ponder and consider. I hope that when we are back out in the world that you and I are both better people for the time we spent during COVID.
See you on the bricks!