One of my joys is a good conversation where a robust give and take keeps each person’s interest alive and stimulated. The same with tennis: I love watching two equally balanced players lobbing a ball over the net, intent on keeping the ball moving for as long as possible and not trying to score a point off the other player.
Here is an example of a short lived conversation or a tennis lob:
First person (Jean) serves up with: “I’m terribly worried about my Dad. Ever since his hip replacement he hasn’t been the same.”
Second person: (Phyllis) “Let me tell you about my Mom. After her hip replacement, she had to move to an assisted living community.”
That kind of conversational one-upmanship drives me batty. It’s like watching a gentle tennis serve followed by the other player ignoring the ball and serving up her own.
OR, there’s this exchange (or volley):
Jean: “I’m terribly concerned about Dad. Ever since his hip replacement he hasn’t been the same.”
Phyllis: “What seems to be the problem?”
Jean: “He appears depressed. And the stairs in his home present a real challenge to him.”
Phyllis: That must really worry you.”
Jean: “I’ve lost a fair amount of sleep over it.”
Phyllis: “What do you think can be done to improve the situation?”
Jean: “I tried talking with him about moving somewhere where he can get some help.”
Phyllis: “Any luck?”
Jean: “Nothing yet, but I want to visit Happy Acres and talk to the people there. Has this ever happened to someone in your family?”
Phyllis: “As a matter of fact, yes. My Aunt Sally had her hip replaced three or four months ago, but the Occupational Therapist really helped to her to regain her old self.” Would you like her name?”
Jean: “Thank you, yes. That must be an immense relief for you and your family. How’s your Aunt Sally doing?
Phyllis: “She’s still a bit ornery, but she’s moving well although a bit slower.”
And so on. Sincere listening by Phyllis. And at some point, Jean shifts the discussion to Phyllis and her Aunt Sally.
Phyllis did have her own story, but she waited to tell it until asked. She also had a suggestion for a solution, but she didn’t rush to “fix” Jean’s problem.
Truly, a healthy give and take.