It’s interesting how people say they want an honest conversation when they don’t.
Truth is very rarely pretty.
A person who risks being completely honest with you is paying you an incredibly high compliment. They are telling you, one, they think you can handle it emotionally, and two, they’re looking for an exchange of valuable ideas and have judged you as having something worthwhile to contribute.
In my experience, most people want a conversation where even if they ask for the truth, what they want is pretty pablum, baby food talk. They want to walk away from that conversation feeling like the most intelligent person.
Generally, people are looking to somehow “win” the conversation. The idea of being one-upped, having nothing of any particular value to contribute, is scary. Most people are too busy composing an answer to the next anticipated question, which will throw them in the best light, a verbal selfie, more so than responding with a reflective, thoughtful response that shows they hear you.
I would rather have conversations with those functioning higher than myself. Parts of the conversation may sail right over my head, but damn, it’s exhilarating. I live for those kinds of exchanges. Worse, I often feel their carefully crafted responses are designed to “handle” me. How often have you experienced someone responding to a direct question with the old dodge, “What do you want me to say?” At that point, you end up frustrated, having to support both sides, essentially conversing with yourself.
There is a challenge to be met when interacting with other writers, where the love of written and spoken words is shared. I prefer to walk away feeling like I’ve gained something more than an ego trophy.
But lately, it feels like I’m being handed a script to parrot. Any deviation, using words with more than two syllables, expressing a different idea, garners discomfort and sometimes outright suspicion.
There’s a reason why it’s called “the art of talk.” It can be more than informative, it can be beautiful.