Gratitude – Day 45 (Conversations vs. Competitions)

I have written about conversations in a prior entry. I would like to continue on that theme today. I believe it was on CBC Radio that I first heard of the concept of conversations and competitions. It was one of those concepts that stuck with me. When I step back and think about many of the interactions I have had in the past, quite a few of them have an element of competition instead of conversation.It was a mode of communication that was the foundation for how some people interact with their world. Not recognizing the pattern at the time, I would get pulled into the competition as a willing participant.There are a handful of people I know that use the competition as their primary mode, (at least in their dealings with me). I have since distanced myself from these folks and have noticed that my conversations have become intensely less competitive.

It would be the simplest of things really:
“Hey, I tried this beer and it is awesome.” /”Had it, not nearly as tasty as one I just had”.
“Wow, bought a new CD and I love it.” / “You should listen to this, it is better.”
“Played this game on the weekend, it was fun.” / “Meh, it is poorly designed, you can always win with ‘x’ strategy.”
“We are going cycling this weekend, wanna come?” / “Cycling is not that effective. I am a runner, better workout.”
“The wine we had with our meal last night was really amazing.” / “The wine I had last night was the best wine in the world.”

Okay, some of these sound a bit contrived, but they have all occurred to some degree. The worst part of a competition instead of a conversation is often there is little to no acknowledgment of what you just said. there is no pause to reflect on the merit of what was just shared, it is immediately time to engage in one-upmanship. Some of these interactions would even venture into giving advice when it was not needed or wanted. I recall that in earlier this year, I was dealing with the news of Mom’s cancer. She did not have a solid diagnosis and treatment plan established at the time. At a gathering of friends, one person started dispensing advice for mom’s health about what she should eat and drink and a number of other things. This person does not have medical training or has this person ever had cancer. They just feel that they are the self appointed Cliff Claven that has to engage in a conversation from a point of having all of the answers or wearing the white robes. Truth of the matter is that it came off very shallow, presumptuous, and insulting. That is a variation on the competition theme. A variation I used to participate in as well. I was offended and irritated by the comments. They were not just fleeting comments, it was a protracted interaction. I am not going to tell mom what tea she has to drink and what else she has to ingest and coddle her. Especially, when the information is not based on any medical or experiential knowledge. Even if the intentions were good, the execution was poor.

I am grateful that through distancing myself from the people I knew who were more interested in competing than conversing, that my interactions have taken on a deeper hue of sincerity and meaning. I am thankful for the added mindfulness in conversing with others. The connections are more endearing and it is a much more relaxing way to live… Hanging out, being yourself, conversing with friends.

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.  ~ Margaret Millar


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