From “Don’t Speak” to “Say Anything”

Today was a good day to be at work. Considering I’m not happy with my job, that’s a pretty profound statement. For whatever reason, the phones just didn’t ring. We weren’t going to point this out to management, in case there was an unknown technical difficulty that needed fixing. Instead, we took the opportunity to catch up on backlog and, once the backlog was handled, get out the crayons. For anyone who does not have a 96-pack of Crayolas on their desk, I highly recommend it,

I did my typical crayon-art drawings, such as two men fishing in a boat on the lake, someone sleeping on a sandy beach, and a cabin in the woods. (Giggles drew a bunch of flowers. Mr. Lazy opted to play 3D Pinball, which he does even when we’re busy.) Coloring is a lot like writing for me. It’s my brain shutting down and my heart controlling my hands. I never know what I’m going to color beforehand, though at least one of them is two men fishing together.

The two men are undoubtably me and my father. Fishing with him is a thought that comes to me when I need to find peace, because I can not imagine a more peaceful experience than sitting on the boat with my dad while we say nothing to each other. We just don’t need to speak. This idea made me think about my quietness again. He and I have known each other for 30 years, so it could be that everything that needs to be said between us has been said already. Someone I’ve just met does not have the luxury of knowing me in advance.

So I’ve made a resolution, two months early. I need to improve my verbal communication skills. I don’t have a complete plan in place yet, and suggestions are certainly welcome. My objective, though, is clear enough: Talk more without saying nothing. It’s hard to spout off words and keep them all relevant and interesting. Given the challenge, I think I will start small.

The first step will be conversing more with the people I already know. I’m going to the Flying Saucer tonight with some friends, so I will make an effort to be a more active conversationalist.

The next step will be to converse more with people I don’t know well, or don’t know at all. This will be a challenge for me, given my discomfort at having unknown people in my personal space. (And I’m writing this in a blog on the Internet. How ironic.) I think I might start this one small, simply by saying hello and smiling to every stranger I pass in Lowe’s or Bi-Lo. It might creep some people out, but none so much as me.

From there, I’ll have to develop conversation skills with strangers. This is something that pick-up artists write books and give classes about. I’m going to give it a try on my own, since I’m not trying to pick anyone up. Worst case, I’ll check a book or two out and see what they have to say. (And I’ll avoid becoming a sleaze. Neil Strauss wrote one recently that isn’t a how-to book, but more like an autobiography of what it was like. That might be a good start.)

With that, I’m off to the house. I need to shave my head and stick my contacts in before I head out tonight.

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