Keep Talking!


Have you ever analysed how much you and your partner talk to each other?  No, neither have I, until this weekend, when I spotted an article about people who divorce after long marriages.  I probably noticed it because it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary on 5th September (which makes it a Pearl, in case you’re interested, and no, I did not buy Charlotte a pair of Pearl earrings.)

According to the dating site ForgetDinner, people who have been married one year spend 40 minutes of an hour-long dinner in conversation.  After 20 years of marriage this drops to 21 minutes; by the time you’ve been married 50 years you will only be talking for 3 minutes during an hour-long meal.

Wooooaah there, not sure that’s been my experience!  At 30 years Charlotte and I are only supposed to talk for 16 minutes per hour.  Blimey, that is so way off, it’s not even remotely how it is.  Normally our problem is the other way around, ie trying to get a word in edgeways.  Can you imagine how it would be to sit opposite your loved one and say nothing for more than 5 minutes?  To me it’s unthinkable.  Maybe I should try it tonight, although I doubt it will last long.

It reminds me of one of my favourite Pink Floyd tracks, Keep Talking, (1994, The Division Bell).  The lyrics finish with “All mankind needs to do is to make sure we keep talking.”  I have written various Blogs about doing the opposite, ie using silence consciously to negotiate, find out what you are dealing with before you rush in to resolve conflict, and to “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  However, I would have to say that when building relationships, “if in doubt, communicate” would be a pretty good approach.  “Keep Talking”  might have been good advice to many a politician and Trade Union leader over the course of history.

So this week’s call to action is to set up a secret video camera at the dining table (or maybe just put your Iphone in the flower vase) and record tonight’s conversation.  I do hope you have less than 20 minutes of silence (and that you have a good explanation worked out for when your partner discovers the device!)  Happy chatting!

About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at www.hownot2.com
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3 Responses to Keep Talking!

  1. Dave, there is of course the other version which is the interminable transmission between the parties of nothing in particular, which is as bad as having nothing worthwhile to say! Personally I think I prefer the latter! Jacob, I so agree.

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  2. Dave Loewy says:

    Do you remember the planet in Hitch-hikers’ Guide to the Galaxy where the people were cursed with the ability to mind read and had to keep talking so that their thoughts couldn’t be over-heard? As a 33 year veteran, I think there is a spectrum of silence from the the worst, where there is nothing left to say, to the best, where warm and companionable silence is all that’s needed to know that you are loved and valued. Or have I just gone deaf?

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  3. Jacob says:

    Michael,
    Great article. I believe that when couples communications fall to those levels the realtionship is either gone or on its way out. So it just might be a predictor of things.
    I also agree that silence and listening or rather seek to understand first, is the golden rule!
    Brgds
    Jacob

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