How much of my conversation is about me? I am not talking about verbal “selfies” where I continually talk about my own abilities or talents, but how often do I talk because I want vindication?
According to the Oxford dictionary conversation as a noun entails, “The informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.” But how often do we smuggle more into our conversations than they are designed to carry? We weigh our conversation semis down with more cargo than a Mexican drug lord and hope that we can get across the border?
An ancient wise man when having a heated debate with his friend comments on this issue of selfish conversation in Job 20:1-3. “Then Zophar the Naamathite answered: 2 ‘Because of my feelings within me. 3 When I hear a reproof that dishonors me, then my understanding prompts me to answer.” Wow, count the personal pronouns there.
How often do we talk because we want to vent our feelings? There is no better way to make a conversation about me than to make my feelings a basis for talking. A lot of conversations would be clarified if I simply wore a sign saying, “It’s all about me!” I share thoughts that have become personal to me (like my favorite sports team or movie), and then when someone has the nerve to disagree, WHAMO! My feelings are hurt. Our society has somehow made conversation a centerpiece for meaning and personal value, rather than a test tube where we experiment with ideas.
For example: If I were to be talking with you in a normal conversation and said, “That is a ridiculous idea, how could anyone believe the world is flat.” Unless you pulled a Rumpelstiltskin and were asleep for 500 years, you probably would not take any offense. However, if I changed the factors slightly and I said, “That is ridiculous, how could anyone believe in your (clothing brand, girlfriend, political candidate)?” I would imagine there would be a little more personal value inherent in your response. You see, the conversation has gone from an exchange of ideas to an acceptance of person. My reactions get stronger because the stakes are now higher, I am no longer battling for an idea, but for my own worth and value. Being proven right is now a matter of honor, “I challenge you to a duel!”
How often do we talk because we have been dishonored? These verbal duels are less likely to have a true conversation than a blind man at a mime convention. Because we have been personally dishonored, we cut people off like a NASCAR driver and send them into the rails. Even if we do not verbally shut people down, we have quit listening to them, so that we can better formulate our next offensive move. We are surprised that they had the audacity to share something about themselves, or even worse…. suggest something that we should consider changing. It is in these moments that it is much simpler not to heed Proverbs 15:32, “He that hears reproof gets understanding.”
So how do we change or to get back to the exchange of ideas? Realize feelings are not the basis for truth, and realize that ideas can be dissected but people shouldn’t (unless they are dead and then they don’t really mind).
You will find that the most stubborn, obnoxious, bull-headed people are not those that are the most sure, but the most insecure.
Please leave your comments, it would make me feel good….