You need 20 minutes to cook rice. 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach Warsaw from Łódź by train. 2 minutes to brush your teeth in the morning. At least 40 minutes to watch an episode of a series.
Why am I writing this? Because all those activities have strictly determined time which you need to succeed. If you cook rice for 1 hour and 40 minutes, you will rather burn it and if you leave the train to Warsaw after 20 minutes, you will end up in Koluszki. But there are different activities and different activities. And how much time do you need to talk?
I rarely shut up. Yes, I talk a lot. Really A LOT. There are not many people I feel comfortable with in silence, so I also often keep speaking just to fill the gap in a conversation. There are a few people who talk much more than me, but in 90% of cases – I am the soul of the conversation.
Can I stay silent? Yes, also. When I don’t know what to say, I would rather say nothing than say anything stupid, inconsiderate or unreasonable. ‘If you don’t know how to act, act decent‘ (‘Jeśli nie wiesz jak się zachować, zachowaj się przyzwoicie‘) – that’s what I derived from home, and I stick to that.
There are no guidelines how much we should talk. Some people are happy with 1 hour a day, some get bored after 10 minutes, others will not have enough after 15 hours.
There are some norms. I’ve noticed that I do not discuss even the most serious topics with my male friends for longer than 20 minutes straight, while I can talk about it to girls for hours. Guys are handy when it comes to finding a quick, obvious and usually the best solution, while girls – when you just need to analyze every single small detail, deal with something in your head. Of course it is generalizing, another gender stereotype, but this comes from my experience.
I don’t think we talk enough nowadays. There is too much of WhatsApp, Messenger, Viver, SMS and Snapchat every day. And yes, I excessively do it too.. Partially because I have friends in all the countries and all the time-zones now, but also because it’s just quick and comfortable… I hate it, but I will rather chat instead of going out on a rainy day, if the matter to be discussed is not very serious. But I try to limit the usage of my phone to absolutely neceserry, strategic and logistic conversations: where and when we meet, what is the homework for tomorrow, how much money do I owe you, when is the exam. I guess that my two longest relationships fall apart partially because of fixing too many things chatting instead of talking (but that’s just searching for the pattern) – my needs of human-human interaction were not satisfied.
Since some time I am learning how to listen. I can point out an exact moment when I realized that I suck at it. It was June this year, I just came back from Erasmus in Sweden, was super-charged (or overloaded) with positive energy, needed to constantly talk and shine with how great I feel. I went to Rome for holidays, and there – surrounded with charizmatic and energetic, but level-headed Italians I’ve heard things like ‘– For Christ sake, why are you planning so much? Every single minute in nearest week! Can you just calm down? Listen to the sea and wind? Let it go? Flow? Say just thing which can change the world? It’s all complicated enough, why to overanalyze it?‘. And then I realized that it’s true. I needed too much of control.
Since June, while talking, I often keep the track of how much I’m speaking, if there are enough questions per statements in what I’m saying, if I let another person talk, if I allow breaks to catch the breath, if I don’t jump from topic to topic. I guess I increased my sensivitity, but hopefully – remained authentic.
There are no guide books ‘how to talk’ and maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I derived enough of it from home. Conversations are about empathy, respect, flexibility and sensivity. I guess I just learnt it in my adult life, when I grew up to some level of maturity and responsibility for myself and others. If you have guideliness how to raise my future-possibly-existing children in a way that they can start having levelled, healthy, productive conversations earlier than me, let me know.