Culture

Have we lost the art of proper conversation?

by Sara Koh // July 10, 2017, 5:44 pm

Small Talk

“Okay everyone, we have a new person with us today. Let’s introduce ourselves: Name, age, what we’re currently doing, and one fun fact.”

Eventually, it was the new girl’s turn. She stated her name and age, and said she was in the process of looking for a job. She also casually mentioned that she wasn’t the most friendly person around. She then performed a magic trick – her fun fact.

But there was still more I wanted to know about her. She seemed like she had a story to tell, and the brevity of her introduction didn’t help curb my curiosity. Besides, there’s always more to a person than their occupation (or the lack thereof, in this case).

So, at the next appropriate moment in the discussion, I asked her a question, hoping to dig deeper. Which led my amused cell leader to exclaim: “You’re really going for it ah! People already say they not friendly you still want to ask more things!”

It got me thinking: As a church, we’ve gotten really good at small talk. We’ve made a ritual out of talking about meaningless platitudes instead of taking the time to ask questions like “But all things aside, how are you, really?

It goes beyond mere communication. What we really need is to revive the act of communing with one another.

Even in more intimate settings – such as at cell group, or one-on-one – people seem to find it hard to delve into deeper topics. We were called to love each other deeply (1 Peter 4:8) – we shouldn’t settle for a love that is shallow or superficial.

Have we lost the art of proper conversation?

It goes beyond mere communication. What we really need is to revive the act of communing with one another. According to dictionary.com, to commune is to “to converse or talk together, usually with profound intensity, intimacy“. This is the type of conversation we need to have if we truly want to love one another and desire to grow together.

George Washington Carter once said, “I have found that when I silently commune with people they give up their secrets also – if you love them enough.
Conversations don’t have to be shallow or inconsequential. The next time you find yourself in one, have the courage to ask deeper questions – and don’t be afraid to answer them as well.

We want to love each other – but do we truly know who we are trying to love? Only by diving into deeper conversations will we get to discover the treasure buried in others. 

HOW TO HAVE BETTER CONVERSATIONS

1. Don’t be afraid of talking about the hard stuff

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

Taking into account the spiritual maturity of the other person, don’t be afraid to share and talk about your personal struggles. Pray for and with your brothers and sisters; encourage each other.

We’re a living exhibit of God’s glory in us when we are transparent even with our shortcomings and habitual sins (Ephesians 4:25). Although these honest conversations can get uncomfortable, we act as outstretched hands to those who might be lonely in similar struggles (2 Corinthians 6:11-13).

2. Talk about how God has shown up in your life

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

We glorify God with our experiences. When we speak about how God has been so good to us, not only are we worshipping him with our words but we are also spurring and encouraging each other on in our pursuit of the Father’s heart.

Our experiences shouldn’t be wasted. Choose to talk about how God is Lord over your life – or how you’re struggling to let Him be – and let people see for themselves the fruits that a relationship with Him will yield.

Don’t hide the light within you.

3. Leave the fixing to Jesus

“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” (Hebrews 12:2)

Many times after hearing the struggles of others, our saviour complex kicks in. We waste no time to chime in and offer 101 solutions for their problems.

Sometimes, we go as far as to hog the conversation by lamenting about our own experiences. When we do this, we rob others of the chance to process and we miss the opportunity of being there for one another.

Grief and suffering aren’t things to be fixed. The real fixing is done within our hearts – and nobody has the power to do that but Jesus. Sometimes, all you need to do is offer your steady support and show up (Hebrews 10:25). Jesus alone perfects our faith.

About the author

Sara Koh

Sara is inquisitive and a self-professed conversationalist. She hopes to learn something new with every interaction and also happens to enjoy writing about them.