The lost art of casual conversation

casual conversation

Last weekend my wife and I took our (now) 11 month old daughter to see her great grandma. My mother also decided to make the trip with us. While we often visit Great Grandma, and we see my mother nearly every day, it really never dawns on me how great these visits are. We sort of take them for granted. But this visit was different, because we are moving to Ohio in just a couple of days to take advantage of an opportunity that, frankly, is too good to pass up.

Maybe our impending departure is why I really became attuned to one of the reasons our visits to Great Grandma are always so great… the conversation. Although Great Grandma is getting up in years, she is still a joy to be around, partly because she is a great conversationalist. And the rapport between her and my mother is something to behold. It is simply contagious. I guess I could sum it all up as she is always “present.”

It’s just so easy to get engaged in the conversations, even though they really aren’t about much that is important. We never talk about the wars, or the economy… and we generally stay away from politics and religion. We just talk about “stuff,” like the garden, or what makes a good RV, or how to knit a wool cap, or Great Grandma’s childhood, or just about anything that most people reading this may think is terribly mundane. But I pose that its not the topic that makes the conversation great… its the casual rapport that seems to just form between Great Grandma and anybody else in the room.

So how does she do it? I really cannot say definitively. But I notice that she almost always has a smile on her face, and she really engages people. She seems to really want to hear what you have to say. She doesn’t talk “at” you, but allows you to take part, and even say things she doesn’t agree with. She doesn’t judge, even when she may not agree. And the metaphors and stories from her past that she uses to make her points are always appropriate and entertaining.

Through her nearly decades of experience she has really learned the art of casual conversation. It’s too bad that the art is nearly a lost art…

So how are your conversations?

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