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Chanie: (Glass clinks) L’chaim to a new conversation with Chanie and Peretz. The last two podcasts we shared about the hesitation that many people have towards having conversations, the preference to either consume something that is ready and tasty and pre-packaged and the desire to give something like that. And we also explored the need to stay in the space between two people who may have a good relationship, but the relationship can be deepened and matured by staying in conversation. And the important element of letting an idea land, a comment land, and avoiding what many of us do to just dismiss it or already have a response ready. Today we are continuing to explore the dynamics of a healthy conversation.
Peretz: I just want to add that the word conversation is used so often. And I just want to remind our participant, our listeners, that two people speaking is not necessarily a conversation, at least the conversation that we’re exploring or what we call a healthy conversation. It’s something deeper than that. It’s something where both people walk away from it, lighter, uplifted, and with a deeper connection to each other and an enriching self of themselves.
Chanie: And it doesn’t just have to be when you walk away. During the experience, there should be the birth and the emergence of those dynamics.
Peretz: Right. So don’t think just sitting across from another person and speaking isn’t necessarily what we were referring to.
Peretz: It’s the willingness to, or the ability to, go in further. So today we want to explore the idea of what to respond after you’ve let that thing land. After you create that space where you set aside what you wanted to say, or you did not deflect, what’s the next step?
Chanie: The next step involves three what I consider magical words. I did not make them up. But I’ve used that more and more, and they are “tell me more.”
Peretz: That’s an invitation.
Chanie: A very simple, straightforward invitation that shares a dynamic of interest, of care, curiosity, and warmth.
Peretz: Right. And by pulling the person in with that invitation, you’re eliciting from them, or you’re enabling them to peel away from sort of their first projection.
Chanie: So for example, I was exploring an emerging relationship with a young, not so young, a female. And she was saying how she feels that there isn’t much spontaneity or playfulness in her relationship, and I could have let it land and then responded and asked her, “Well, how does he feel about it?” Or I could have said, “That’s okay, that will take time.” Or I could have said, “Oh, that’s not good. This is an alarming sign for your relationship.” Instead, I chose to say, “Tell me more,” which invited her to tell me, really to tell herself out loud, more about the need for playfulness, the void that she hasn’t experienced that dynamic as much as she’d like. And by staying in that space, it allowed her to articulate, to make sense of, to come forward. So it really helps the person themselves. And it’s really less about the listener actually.
Peretz: And what you’re doing there is you’re helping them find that the solution to their problem is actually something that they possess. It allows them to break out of that frame of mind of how they saw the problem in one particular way. And by digging deeper, by you inviting them to “tell me more”, they were able to see it broader, with more breadth and therefore find a solution for it from within themselves, which is ultimately the only solution that will actually work, not the one that you would have perhaps suggested to her.
Chanie: It’s interesting that you use the word solution. Solution is a good word. I hesitate to use that word because it implies that there will be a solution. Like it’s there just waiting for us to take it off the shelf. How I see it as not necessarily the word solution, or I would broaden the word solution, how the response and understanding is within her, how she can come to her own tools and ways of how to navigate this space. How much of her playfulness is real? How much is it a fantasy? How much is she really already having with him and what part is still not there and is there a possibility? It begins to give her ways of navigating and understanding what she already has, how she can adjust herself, how she can adjust the relationship, how much he has to share with him, et cetera. So that’s what I think you might mean by solution or that’s what I mean by solution.
Peretz: A solution can mean how to live with it, how to, how to deal with it, how to navigate it.
Chanie: Yeah. And you say something so important. The art and the skill of having conversation is to allow the person themselves to understand themselves better so that they could grow and learn from themselves and how to move and pivot and adjust. I’m using all these words, but they all represent different ways in people’s minds. It’s not so much about the person suggesting the answer – the other, the listener or the therapist or the coach.
Peretz: Yeah. And for that really all you need is a friend. All you need is someone to sit across from and to speak with them. Another thing that happens is also that the connection between the two people deepens, because you’ve, in that case, you took that person somewhere where they weren’t able to go on their own. They shared with you something deeper that they wouldn’t have shared otherwise.
Chanie: Yes. That’s so insightful, because when a person then shares a further layer and additional layer with you, if you are the type of person who wants you to respond right away or thought you had an answer, or thought you had an understanding, then perhaps this more vulnerable or fragile layer will almost shut you up because you’re seeing a person’s sensitivities and complexities. So also, you’re right, it also brings an element of maturing and closeness to this relationship. One that invites humility into both.
Peretz: There’s another thing that ‘’tell me more’’ can do, and that is to reduce conflict. And just a simple example is with our children. When we’re sitting around the table and on Shabbat and they are wondering, they’re upset that we have no guests and that we’re alone. And they said it was getting lonely that, you know, when COVID, and you know, we don’t have friends to play with, friends to come over for Shabbat. And if we would tell them, “Well, you have each other,” or “Well, you know, it’s going to end,” they would respond back with another “well,” another, “well, well, well,” but when we say to them –
Chanie: Or even before, “Tell me more,” we could even say “Yes, that is so understandable. You know, it would be so nice to have friends over, wouldn’t it?” That’s also a pretty good response.
Chanie: But we’re offering an even better one.
Peretz: Yeah. And that is to invite them to “tell me more”. And when you say, “tell me more”, instead of responding to them, sort of… instead of making it a subtle conflict of, they have one view, and we have another view, we’re merging together. We’re telling them, okay, tell us more about what’s going on there. And immediately their upsetness decreases. And it settles down the anxiety.
Chanie: Or not even the anxiety. It invites them to share with their parents in a way where they’re not being judged or parented, right? Where they feel that their words can land.
Peretz: Which is so important for kids to have with their parents.
Peretz: To reduce the hierarchy, to come together, particularly in these difficult times of social isolation. So “tell me more” does a lot.
Chanie: Three simple words opens up for a lot more words and connection.
Peretz: But the last point I want to explore – the difficulty or the challenge to say, “tell me more.” It sounds so simple, so I’ll just drop three words, but why don’t we? What resistance do we have to say those words?
Chanie: I think we’re afraid to hear more. Or we excuse it by lack of time.
Peretz: Or perhaps we think we’re failing our role in the conversation. If the person’s reaching out to us, don’t we have to provide them with a solution? “Tell me more,” we’re not doing what is expected of us.
Chanie: That’s true. So we just shared three dynamics that would prevent someone from using these words, “tell me more.” And they’re similar in general to what we spoke about the other time about just having conversations, the hesitancy, the need for a solution to give and to receive a solution. The fear of staying in a tension, in a space of tension. You know, when we’re angry inside, frustrated about something, we often don’t pause ourselves and tell ourselves, “tell me more.” Often we’re frustrated about one thing, but really it’s not about that. It is something deeper that we’re afraid to explore in ourselves.
Peretz: I think let’s leave that for a whole other conversation,
Peretz: that topic. So we invite you in your next conversation with somebody, even something as simple as, “How was your day?”
Peretz: Say the three magic words of, “tell me more.” Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.