One of the things that fascinates me is conversations that are left unsaid. And being a person who both talks a lot and does not talk nearly enough simultaneously, it is perhaps unsurprising that I would notice the unspoken conversations that exist in between and around the spoken conversations that I have and that I witness and that I hear about from others. It is perhaps obvious, even a bit too obvious, that despite my own stark limitations when it comes to communication that I have an intense interest in the communications that others engage in, and this is one of those examples where that is the case and I would like to share at least some observations with you, dear reader, about this phenomenon so that you may better understand it in your own life if you should happen to find it.
During the course of enjoyable conversation yesterday, I was able to hear a fascinating conversation that contained a major unspoken element. The talk I was having with a couple of other people involved the Feast of Tabernacles and our own plans. I discussed the fact that my original plans had changed and that I had made plans to travel to another country instead, and one of the people I was chatting with thought that the place I am planning on going to at this point would be worthwhile for her eldest daughter, who had wanted to go to another all-inclusive tropical site that had been cancelled because of the roni. The unspoken part of the conversation, though, involved where the people I was talking with were going to the Feast. One of the people wanted to go to Rapid City, South Dakota, because the person had missed the chance to go previously with family. The other person wished to go to St. George, Utah, and had previously had a negative experience in South Dakota and did not appear to want to go back. There were also some humorous comments about driving, as it seemed the person who wanted to go to Utah despite the lengthy 16 hour trip did not want to take advantage of the fact that the family had three other drivers who could help take turns in shifts to make the driving burden less difficult. The sheer multiplicity of unspoken conversations about the importance of bad experiences in shaping expectations and the presence or lack of trust when it came to sharing responsibilities of driving the family on a long road trip were quite fascinating to watch and listen to.
These are elements that many people share when it comes to conversation. When we make plans, we are all subject to a variety of hopes and expectations and thought processes that shape what we want to do and how we want to go about it. Some of us are profoundly motivated to go to places we have not been to, or if that is not possible, to go to places where we have positive memories that we wish to enjoy again. My stepfather, for example, loved Jamaica and highly approved of my efforts to encourage us to travel there, and as I missed out on the chance to go there earlier, it was somewhere new for me to visit that I was enthusiastic to see. On the other hand, such pull factors are not always decisive, as there are negative push factors that may drive us away from wanting to go to a certain place or to do a certain thing. Some people are willing to give a place or an activity a second chance, but I am seldom likely to give a bad food dish or a terrible restaurant a second chance, and this is not an uncommon response. To the extent that we recognize the factors that influence us to do things or to not want to do other things, we can better understand why it is that other people who do not share our experiences may have different wishes or opinions.
Why is it that we have unspoken conversations? I cannot speak for other people since I do not know what drives them, but knowing myself I can speak from my own point of view. There are quite a lot of things that I simply am disinclined to talk about with other people, and if I get the sense that other people are highly critical of things or have a negative attitude or are not good listeners, I am less likely to want to tell them things. Looking around, it does appear as if there are quite a few people who are simply not good listeners, do not treat other people and their thoughts and opinions with a high degree of respect and consideration, and tend to be relentlessly critical to people who do not appreciate or desire to be criticized. In such circumstances it is little surprise that so many conversations remain unspoken, because the path that would allow those conversations to become spoken simply never occurs, because not enough trust and respect are present for that conversation to occur in the first place. Since people who do not listen well and do not respect well tend to miss signs that other people feel disrespected and not listened to, it is hard for the proper conditions for these conversations to occur to exist, since to communicate the lack of trust and belief that someone is a disrespectful or impolite listener is not likely to lead to the sort of response that will increase trust or good feelings. And so things remain unspoken because the will to speak them and the ability to listen profitably to them do not exist.