Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Trish and I had yet another fascinating conversation at lunch today, discussing friendship and how to encourage people to share on a meaningful level. The best description I can come up with is that I want people to share something personal with me, something real, something about them.

I haven't figured out how to get people to tell me about them - not their children or grandchildren, not their jobs, not their posessions - but them... what they think and feel... what they've read recently that struck them... something meaningful. I'm not asking for everyone's deep, dark secrets, but I need more than chit chat.

When I find people unwilling to share themselves it's hard for me to build a relationship beyond a surface one. And I'm not really interested in a surface relationship. If I don't know who you are at your core how can I bond with you?

If I wanted to know about your son I'd invite him to get together. If I wanted to know about your job I'd come visit you at work. I want to know about you. You are enough. I don't need you to "fluff up" your conversation with other people and their accomplishments. You are enough. Just you.

So far I haven't figured out how to move beyond this fluff with some folks. I want the real person, not the ancillary people and events in your world. Just you.

Well, time for me to go turn on the electric blanket. It's frigid here. I have water running in the kitchen and will turn it on in the bathroom sink when I go upstairs. It's supposed to be 4 degrees at 8 a.m., with a wind chill of 20 below. I'm sure I'll feel it when I go out to warm up the car. Yikes.

I'm so thankful for a warm house. It's easy to take those things for granted because we're used to them. But, I'm thankful.


sigerson said...

When people tell me about their kids or their jobs, they are telling me, indirectly, about themselves. You can tell a lot about people by the kind of work they do. Their comments about their kids or grandkids can also offer insights.

If people talk only about their careers or their offspring, though, it's likekly their identities have been totally consumed by these "outside forces." In these cases, they may not *know* what to tell you about themselves.

It helps if you share something of yourself first to show them the way, though I imagine you know this already.

Patsy Terrell said...

I share a lot of myself with people - some might say too much. In fact, some thing I share too much even on the blog, much less in person.

I understand what you're saying - that people are telling me indirectly about themselves through those things, but I don't want that kind of relationship. I want to know them - not their jobs or kids.

I want to know who they are, what makes them tick, what their first thought every morning is, what they long for, how they want their lives to look in 10 years, etc.; and I'm never going to get that out of a recitation of the day's work life, or a story about the granddaughter's latest soccer game. If people are unwilling to actually share themselves there's no hope of building a real relationship. And if there's no hope of that then there's not much point in either of us wasting our time. What, really, is the point of another interaction that never goes beyond the basics?

Obviously, not everyone feels this way. And entire marriages - entire lives - have been built on that level of interaction. It's just not enough for me.