There is a scene in "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade” where Indy is sitting with his estranged father. He takes a moment away from the adventure to discuss their personal problems.
Indiana Jones: Remember the last time we had a quiet drink? I had a milkshake.
Professor Henry Jones: [distracted with a book] What did we talk about?
Indiana Jones: We didn't talk. We've never talked.
Professor Henry Jones: Do I detect a rebuke?
Indiana Jones: A regret. It was just the two of us, it was a lonely way to grow up. If you'd been an ordinary father, you'd have understood that.
Professor Henry Jones: Actually, I was a wonderful father.
Indiana Jones: When?
Professor Henry Jones: Did I ever tell you to eat up, go to bed, wash your ears, do your homework? No, I respected your privacy and I taught you self-reliance.
Indiana Jones: What you taught me is that I was less important to you than people who have been dead for 500 years in other countries, and I learned it so well that we've hardly spoken for 20 years.
Professor Henry Jones: You left just when you were becoming interesting. [Closes his book.] Very well, I'm here now. What do you want to talk about?
Indiana Jones: [At a loss for words] ....I can't think of anything.
Professor Henry Jones: Then what are you complaining about?
In reality, it’s a conversation repeated often not only by family members but couples too. "What do you want to talk about? No suggestion? Then what are you complaining about?"
Conversation is the life-blood of relationships, we desire to do it to feel that connection. We notice the effects of its absence.
When the issue comes to a head, one party throws down the cheap escape of “what do you want to talk about?”. And on the spot, the other is left lost for words as if indicating that there is nothing to talk about, that their complaint has no basis.
But the point of conversation is more than just the words communicated. It’s a process over time that builds & grows bonds. Without it, the connection starts to decay.
When confronted with our need to talk more we may not know what we want to talk about, but we know we want to engage.
Habits of not talking or making minimal obligatory conversation put a rust into the relationship. When you actually want to have a real conversation, it becomes much harder.
This is where conversation starters can help. “What do you want to talk about?” Let’s find out.
When you start talking again, the things you want to say start coming out too and the relationship grows again.
Things you should talk about aren’t some kind of checklist like Henry Jones is suggesting. Conversation is an act where someone feels valued because you are taking the time to interact with them and share in their world.
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