If people only ever talked about things that both parties cared about, how much casual conversation would we actually have? I listen to my wife gab on and on with her sister and friends about endless topics that only she most likely cares about all the time. She talks about our children and the goofy stuff they do, her time spent at the gym, decoration tips she saw on Pinterest that she’d like to try out in the house and so forth.
I get the impression that her sister and friends don’t really care all that much about what my wife has to say by their expressions as I watch the conversations happen in real time. As my wife talks about something she cares about, the other party tends to sit by half way listening and essentially waiting for their turn to talk.
I’ve recognized the same phenomenon in most people with the extreme to just how uninterested the other party is in what their friend is saying varying. I find those with the fewest friends actually tend to listen the least. I once had a boss who showed so little interest in what others had to say that as you talked to him, you could see his eyes drift off to nowhere, and as soon as a pause came in your sentence he would proceed with his own line of thought once again! Unsurprisingly, he didn’t have very many close friends….
My observation is completely anecdotal, but I’ve found truth in it. People who have a tendency to pay attention to their friends and acquaintances, retain information and react to what they are saying tend to have more meaningful relationships. And the more one seems uninterested in those around them, the fewer strong bonds and true friends they appear to have.
Maybe suffering through the uninteresting conversation is just part of being a good friend and having a true friendship of some real fabric and substance. And maybe actually showing a little interest in what your friends are saying is even better.
Remembering little personal factoids like Mark is always drinking diet coke and will have a slice of Hawaiian if we’re eating pizza, or Kat loves skinny vanilla lattes, or Patrick’s drink of choices is Jamison and Ginger may seem trivial, but they might actually be the building blocks to long term, meaningful friendships.
When you beat people to the punch and surprise them with their favorite drink or pizza order before they even asked for it, it makes them realize that you’re paying attention and care. And when you put up with their annoying quirks here and there, maybe that only serves to strengthen bonds over time, leading to more honesty as the friendship matures.
I admittedly don’t have very many friends, but the ones I do have I am very tight with. I think the reason why is because I pay attention and don’t mind listening to all the trivial crap they have to say, that no one really cares all the much about. And I really pay attention to the details.
Food for thought.