I had one of those conversations, today. The kind that leaves you in awe of someone’s social intelligence, and leaves you wishing you were half so adept. Makes you wish you could shove them in your suitcase, and pull them out for all those awkward silences where you just… don’t quite know what to say.
I was watching a video (phone, free wi-fi, a sincere desire to avoid doing any actual work). It’s one of those “in conversation” numbers where Writer A and Writer B talk about Topics for about an hour and a half. Being quite honest, this is my on-again off-again video, and I mostly doodle while I’m listening to it. (True fact: If people in a video can’t see you, they assume you’re paying attention.)
And my friend materializes behind me to ask what I’m watching.
Yes, I probably heard him the first time, but I’m working my way toward an acceptable
lie Version of the truth, when the answer is “two guys who write books you can’t read talking to each other about more books.”
I am not good at diplomacy. I told him the truth, It’s Writer A interviewing Writer B, and I really mostly expected a disinterested shrug. That’s what I’d probably wind up with from most people, or maybe a vague… Isn’t he the one who…
A second’s pause, after which my friend asks, “Which one do you like?”
Well, obviously, I picked one and pointed. Why not?
Without a doubt the sagest, most knowing smile you’ve ever seen in your life. “I like him,” my friend says, pointing to the other one. And to be sure, it doesn’t matter which one I picked, my friend would definitely like the other guy better.
My friend is good at connecting with people. And he’s as good at it as anybody I’ve ever talked to. People like him. He makes them laugh, and he does this intentionally, and naturally. If I had half his skill, I could have taken over the world by now.
Or, at least, I could be pretty popular.
He listens. He doesn’t always understand, but he does care enough to listen. Whatever it is. Awareness of how other people are feeling, and actual concern. And he’s good at drawing people into conversations, too.
I want to be more like him.
But maybe I just need a bigger suitcase.
p. j. lazos