Hey, meet me at the water cooler in 5 minutes! Hmmm, wonder what chatter is being shared today? ”People seem to see no difference between an intimate conversation and a conversation at the water cooler.” ~ Mike Farrell
Why is it seemingly easier to share chats or gossip at the water cooler, than to sit in a quiet setting getting raw, real and intimate with our partners, spouses, family or friends? The first thing that comes to mind is that it’s just easy. It’s often light-hearted or silly in nature. On the other hand, gossip is juicy and unpredictable and so deliciously voyeuristic; feeding our need to be involved even when it’s not our business. It’s simpler to talk about someone else’s issues, flaws or their [perceived or real] poor behaviors than it is to talk about our own thoughts, feelings, and faults.
Do you see what she’s wearing? Have you heard that Sally and Joe are secretly dating? Can you believe how drunk Sam got at happy hour? Can she look any more slutty in her social media posts? I hear Bill got called into H.R., wonder why? I heard she is up for that promotion—I work harder than her. On and on the water cooler talk continues. And, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we’re probably all guilty of doing it at one time or another.
Am I right? It’s easier to talk about others than it is with ourselves or in the course of our relationships. These are potentially dangerous waters we tread when we don’t know all of the facts yet contribute to spreading partial truths or flat-out lies and rumors.
This need for trivial chatter needs to be replaced with meaningful conversations. I have written before about Communication Dysfunction and Intimate Conversations. Take a few moments to revisit these posts. There are a few key reasons why such necessary conversations aren’t occurring. The biggest one is fear! We are fearful of being judged, of failing, of being ridiculed, or misunderstood. We are afraid to share our deepest desires as people might think they are too extreme, too silly or too kinky.
Then, there is the fear of hurting someone’s feelings if we speak openly and honestly. There is fear that our words will come back to be used against us. We fear we will put others on the defensive and conflict will ensue.
We fear we aren’t eloquent or educated enough to convey our message. Additionally, we fear we won’t be taken seriously when it matters or that we are being taken too seriously when we are just joking. I could go on and on. Do you recognize yourself in any of these situations?
The other issue is listening. All of us want and need to be heard and understood at times. Sadly, it often seems that no one is listening or if they are, it’s not with 100% focus. Are we really that indifferent to one another; are we that self-absorbed or uncaring? I don’t want to hear “I just don’t have the time.” Life is busy for everyone—full of commitments, clutter, chaos and confusion. We’ve got to make the time.
This lack of meaningful, intimate conversation between anyone with whom we have any sort of relationship, is damaging ourselves and society. The reliance on texts, instant messaging and non-face to face conversations is becoming the downfall of our world.
People say things need to be fixed, but no one wants to talk through all of the difficult stuff in order to achieve solutions. The same people who are demanding justice and peace, are the same who quickly dismiss those looking to be educated. Relationships and marriages are failing because we avoid the tough conversations (ones that should have happened long before a union is even considered). We keep putting off conversations thinking that things will somehow miraculously fix themselves without ever having a discussion. (I am still waiting on a conversation that should have happened 10 years ago, but definitely 5 years ago. It continues to be avoided. The only thing I can figure is fear; fear then, fear remains. I will still have the conversation anytime someone else decides to step to the plate.)
As we move through life, don’t be afraid to be open and honest. They are just words. Using them effectively and listening to understand will serve us well in all areas of life. Don’t get so offended by what others say; it’s not always meant maliciously. Take those words and learn, grow, and inspire others in the process. Don’t omit facts that are important to the situation, input from all sides is imperative.
If the relationships are important to you, they deserve so much more time, care, honesty and intimacy than 5 minutes at the water cooler.