I am your online barista. Allow me to fix you a devotional drink about the Christian life. Today’s cup is an Almond Latte about the difficulty of having quality conversations. All of us have been in situations where the other person does not want to talk. But in most of those situations, it is important to talk. So, how do you talk to someone who doesn’t want to talk? This situation pops up in every corner of life such as the home, work place, school, and church. In fact, you might be leading a discussion group right now and no one wants to talk! Situations like this become everyday challenges, for example, in a marriage where the man and the woman have become so comfortable with each other over time that the conversations doesn’t flow as it once did during the dating period. Actually, in a marriage or any relationship, it’s common for one person to be more talkative than the other. This dynamic may even be the case between a parent and child. So, what do you do what the conversation is difficult?
Well, God’s word counsels us in Proverbs 20:5 saying, “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” Here, the image of a man’s (or woman’s) heart is like deep dark waters. It’s the experience of looking into dark water and not seeing very much. But somewhere deep down in those murky depths are the man’s (or woman’s) real purposes, desires, and beliefs. Of course, the dark-watery man or woman is thinking about a lot of things, but there is hesitation to speak for whatever reason. And the other person can quickly get the impression that he/she does not want to talk. Well, that may be so, but it may not be the case. Just because he/she is not talking doesn’t mean he/she does not want to talk. Either way, it’s very deep and dark down there in a person’s heart.
Draw Out the Conversation
God tells us to draw out the conversation. The analogy in Proverbs 20:5 is of a well that is deep and dark. And the way you draw the water is to drop a bucket and draw it out. And so, it is in difficult conversations that the bucket is lowered and the conversation is drawn.
And the person who makes the effort to drop the bucket down the well is described as a “man of understanding.” This person has God-given wisdom to read the situation and know that a conversation is necessary. He/she then exercises wisdom to know that initiation is necessary and questions need to be asked to draw out the necessary conversation. And such wisdom also dictates that the bucket may need to be lowered a number of times before water (good conversation) is drawn.
A Skill to Develop
Now, the book of Proverbs describes wisdom as an acquired skill. Some people are born with the gift. But whether you have the gift or not, you still need to develop the skill. Such skill reminds me of interviewers on TV; they know how to ask questions and make comments that draw out good responses from even from the most closed person. They developed wisdom to know that the other person has things to say but may not know how to say it or not be willing to say it. But regardless, the interviewer is able to drop the bucket and draw the water. This skill of questioning and commenting is a wisdom-laden skill that we all need to develop, from spouses to parents to friends.
The Right Comments and Questions
And because he/she has wisdom, the comments and questions will be carefully prepared so as not to offend or make the other person uncomfortable. This will require much thought, preparation, and wisdom.
If you’re meeting in a group, you can pause to discuss this dynamic between a talker and a non-talkative person. Give each other advice and share creative questions you can ask (lowering the bucket) to draw out the conversation. Share scenarios where conversation is difficult. Try to find at least 3 good questions to ask and keep them in your heart as way to connect to another person’s heart. Please pray together about it.
That’s it for today, until next time, consider the profitable work of dropping the bucket and drawing out a meaningful conversation. This is how relationships are deepened and conflict is resolved. And all this is part of your journey towards the greater purpose for your life.