The Seconds Between Texts
I am often curious about what happens for people in the seconds between texts; between sending a text and waiting for the response, watching the scrolling three dots, and wondering what the other person is going to say next.
For me, that moment can span the spectrum of feelings, depending on the person and why we are texting. I have felt the range of emotions and sensations, from tightening in my chest when I am in the midst of a difficult conversation, to feelings of warmth and calm as I anticipate kind and engaging words popping up on my screen.
In those seconds, which can be so brief and sometimes too long, there is an opportunity we all have, to create a more connected conversation.
I have learned three things in searching for a more connected conversation. And, that learning has come from some not-so-connective text conversations. My learning has led to these tips, which I offer here, on the chance that they may be helpful for you too.
I visualize the person on the other end of the connection. That is much easier to do, of course, when I know the person. Even if I do not, like on HearMe, creating a visual of that person helps me to hold the person with a sense of loving-kindness. When I do that, I tend to feel genuine gratitude that the other person is choosing to be there in that very moment, willing to connect with me. And, this works both ways: when I am the person needing the listening, as well as when I am the listener.
I also do my best to give the other person a lot of leeway. Words have different meanings for different people. I am continually amazed that even the most seemingly simple words (to me) can land for people differently, depending on who they are, including where they grew up, their age, their culture, etc. As one of my sons has reminded me often, “Dad, not everyone talks like you do.” And, that is definitely the case with text.
Breathe. Our breath is probably the most valuable asset we have. Imagine how conversations would be different if we all took just one deep, full breath – a long inhale and exhale – between receiving and replying to a text that affects us in some way. We would likely be less reactive and more able to give someone leeway as we pause even briefly to reflect on the words they used, knowing that those words may mean something different to them then they do for me. And, in that pause, visualizing the other person with loving-kindness.
In my Sacred Discourse work, I talk often about holding the relationship above whatever a particular conversation may be about, with an intention that the other person leaves the conversation more whole, inspired, and connected than before. While this may feel difficult to do sometimes, it is also very possible. And, one conversation where someone feels better after talking than before, paves the way for another conversation that may be even more connective.
What are your tips for how to make a conversation more connected, more relational?
Understandably, we tend to focus more on the conversations that did not go well. Yet, when conversations do go well, that may be a time to reflect on why they went well. It is likely that you are doing something impactful. When we realize what we did that made a difference, then we know our own “tips” for helping to make the next conversation go as well, or even better.
Tom McSteen is the founder of Sacred Discourse. He also works as a somatic and ontological coach, in addition to delivering Sacred Discourse services. These two areas of work follow a nearly thirty-year legal career. You can read more about his work at sacreddiscourse.com.