The Surface Talkers

“I’ll tell you what I would’ve done…”

Of course you would, most of us would, because most of us know what we would’ve done if it had we been in the situation. I won’t fault you for telling me. There are few people who are willing to admit they would tuck tail and run. When the Cowardly Lion was granted his courage we breathed a collective sigh of relief, not for his new found power, but for ourselves for now we no longer had to plot his apathetic demise.

Where are you going with this Will?

Good question brain. I would like to talk about consciousness and awareness of speech. Everyday I work towards increasing the awareness of and intentions behind my speech. This daily practice has rewarded me with a heightened awareness of others’ speech and their intentions. This awareness makes me realize how trite we sound when the conversation starter is, “well, what I would’ve done is…”, *Yawn*. The converse of the banality would be, “well, what I did was…”, ooh intriguing, tell me more! The next time you find yourself sucked into conversation with the Surface Talker”, take the high road. Allow the Surface Talker” 3-5 minutes to expound on what they would’ve done, after all, you are the respectful type aren’t you? Once the time has elapsed, if the person is still rambling on, then you are no longer obligated to be polite. If you continue being polite, you are jeopardizing the future for the lost art of meaningful conversation. You are blessed with awareness now it is your duty and your obligation to shed light for the Surface Talker” on the poverty of their conversational depth.

Why am I a conversational evangelist? The art of conversation is dying an accelerated death and it is taking our dignity and integrity along with it. The essence of conversation is rooted in interpersonal relationships. The implications of the, “let me tell you what I would’ve done” conversations reinstate we are losing the ability to relate with each other. Even worse (and why I believe our dignity and integrity are on the line) these types of conversations can flourish without any fundamental basis in truth.

What can we do to stop the Surface Talker” and their foul and mundane preponderances? The root cause is a general lack of awareness that has risen from a general lack of accountability, which has arisen from the ever growing size of our government and our corporations and the shrinking size of our neighborhoods and communities. Combine this with the false protective custody of our cars and the faceless platform provided by the internet for launching anonymous verbal assaults and no longer is their a direct correlation between actions and consequences. The stage is set for us to become puppets and the TV will be the Surface Talkers” director.

Somewhere along my journey I was granted awareness. There was no one moment but there were some key people. A coworker and also a friend of mine would give me untold amounts of grief about word selection. He once asked me what was the difference between a man and a real man. He said, “A man knows how to change his oil but a real man takes it a step further. A real man also knows how to change his oil and has made the efforts to be able to pay someone else to do it for him.”

Huh?

“I thought we were talking about word selection. What does word selection have to do with changing oil?” I would ask. To which he would respond, “What I am trying to say Will, is the real man will make the effort to use the best words possible.”

Whoa, that was…a relational analogy, assuming I could relate to changing oil.

More often though the conversation went like this. I would call something weird and he would ask me, “what the f*** does weird mean? Weird? How the hell is a stream crossing weird? What is weird about it Will? The shape, the depth, the banks? What is it because I sure as hell don’t see anything that is weird about it? You went to college and the best word your vocabulary can produce to describe this stream crossing is f****** weird?” Yeah, he could be an elitist prick but most of the time he was right.

This gentlemen became a mentor to me. I am certain he didn’t know I saw him this way. He was a scholar, a gentlemen, a redneck, a scientist, a botanist, a laborer, and an athlete, not necessarily in that order. When I asked him for professional advice he told me once, “Know the vocabulary of whatever industry you are working. Learn how and when to properly use your vocabulary. If you can do this well others will not question your skills or intentions.” This has quite possibly been the best professional advice I have ever been given.

I don’t recall ever having “if” conversations with my Mentor. He would have allowed it once, and that is probably what happened, “If I were running this place…” and he would let me keep rambling until I was finished. There would be silence and I would be aware my rant received no response. I wait for validation, as any whiner would, and he would look back and respond, “So how are you going to get to the point you can run this place?” or perhaps, “What do you think it is like to be the person running this place?” or if he were feeling sarcastic, “If you were running this place then you wouldn’t be here right now.”

When you take this approach it will most often fall on deaf ears.“The Surface Talkers” don’t want to think, they only want your validation. Be a Mentor and save the person who has yet to realize their demise. Ten years ago that was me. A few questions are all it took for me to stop and think about what I was saying. Those questions were my antidote and they have become my ammunition. If your “Surface Talker” responds, seize the moment and make a difference in their life. Cultivate the seed of awareness so it may ripen into awareness and produce an individual that knows what they will do and is not compelled to lavish others with what they would’ve done.

Will Conkwright

April 19, 2015

Delray Beach, FL