In today’s world of overstimulation, people are culturally forced into a seemingly limitless barrage of superficial chatter. While small talk is harmless, constant superficial conversation is toxic to any intimate relationship. Dr. John Gottman finds irony and a cause for concern in the bizarre applicability of Jean Piaget’s findings on “collective monologue” to our everyday conversations. Originally found in preschoolers, the effect is visible in adults these days. Around the dinner table, people often alienate each other without even realizing it.
Consider the following example of a couple talking after a long workday:
A. “Augh, I can’t believe how much I have to do these days. I can’t believe how many projects my boss handed off to me today.”
B. “Oh, you think you have problems? My students were in rare form today. They’re all having technical problems, or they’re not paying attention during the lesson. I call on them, and they’re off in ‘la la land.’”
A. “At least you don’t have a terrible boss. He doesn’t even get it. I keep having to work overtime!”
B. “The principal is breathing down my neck to improve student performance, but how can I do that when they’re learning from home?”
A. “That’s it. I’m quitting my job.”
B. “WHAT? What are you talking about?!”
They are talking past each other. Think back to your recent conversations. Sound familiar?
When you are in a stressed-out state while trying to communicate with your partner, you risk unintentionally sending the wrong messages to each other. These days, it’s important to re-learn what an intimate conversation even looks like. Many have severe misconceptions on the subject, which understandably provoke anxiety for legitimate reasons. Intimate conversation is not about touchy subjects and conflict discussions. Intimate conversation is about “Sliding Door” moments. Intimate conversation is about sharing closeness and solidifying your bond with your loved ones. For more detail, explore Dr. Gottman’s book “What Makes Love Last.”