I was watching comedian Greg Davies and in his opening act of show You Magnificent Beast, he tells a story of something so relateable it’s hilarious.
He takes us through a dinner with his now widowed mother, he’s ravishingly hungry and rips bites off his delicious stake. His thought process is something like this ‘Oh this is divine! So incredibly juicy!’ And so on, his mother talks aloud something like ‘Oh that Josline down the road had a stroke last week, so terrible she can only walk a little and forgets things as soon as she’s said them’ and other trivial news of neighbors, friends, relatives. He is still clinging onto the internal diologue and sensory experience of his meal, while information he never wanted to hear, is completely useless to his life gets broadcasted to him.
This happens to me often, it may not be out at dinner but in a cafe, at the breakfast table. I’m all for catching up, social interaction and exchanging stories. Trouble is people who talk about other people are usually bad story tellers (there are exceptions), these people cling to a fear based view announcing the worst of what they heard on the news or the weather on holiday before any good seeps in. They are busy in other people’s business, maybe that’s their job?
I suppose, I was like that once and the habit got kicked out of me at 16 years old. Imagine a younger me with tight black short pencil skirt and a black vest top with MangoMangoMango all across it in white letters, my hair long and badly straightened. I was in my best friends room at the time, talking about people as I usually would, not often badly though sometimes. Thing is the people I talked about didn’t relate to each other, I had a wide friendship group so no one ever bumped into one another, this only made the talking worse. Anyway, my friend at the time, we’ll call him Stephan who would often listen to my goings over of other peoples lives caught me out by saying something like: Do you know if people heard you talking about them, they wouldn’t like it? Or something like ‘You know you’re always talking about other people!!’ Gradually I lessened my talk of others, though by now it was a habitual addictive pattern I had to come off.
Some people don’t have those conversations that make a shift in thinking and behaviour, they go on to do the same into their 20’s, 40’s, 60’s.
I once read a good cut off for those gossiping, it’s a little harsh (for me but effective so I use it scarcely) simply put – Why are you telling me this? Try it.
I’ve lately been finding through doing a 40 Day yoga practice, I’ve become more detached emotionally from stories people spin at me. If it’s a long tale of what someone else is doing after x y z happened I listen, I breathe, I show little interest and move it on, so not to feed it. I do this often in my j o b, I feel drained doing it in my leisure time too, serious instead of care free, those are the type of people I do want to talk with, I will work on myself with that. I’ve got in habit of reminding a person I don’t need to know or care for other details about the lives of people I do not know and to stop them from going on further after they mention news about someone I do know.
It’s not easy, especially as the certain someone I’m thinking of is sociable and that’s their personality and all they know, have known for so long. I don’t want to put them down or unleash a whole lot of shame. I can put up boundaries, in a work environment I listen and try not to feed the conversation further.
Try to make small talk short and sweet while being true to you instead of pleasing and energy draining takes conscious habit making, big talk (where you talk about your life reflections, spirituality, accountability) is so much more worth while.
Try today to pause before you talk, is it coming from your true self? Will you feel empty or fill you up ready to talk more about your interests, love.