Good, Honest Woman Talk

Summer loosens up our time and our tongues for more conversations with friends, which is good since I like to talk. (No surprise there.) I especially like to talk to my women friends. I don’t mean the gossipy talk. I mean the catch-up talk. And we all know there’s a fine line.

Online social networking is fun, social and even beneficial, but it cannot replace good, honest woman to woman talk. The two means of “talking” may look the same. They both start with a simple line like we might give in a Facebook update, but when we speak those same words or ask a question face-to-face or over the phone to one particular person it becomes more.

More context. Women like to talk out their problems. We want feedback, not necessarily solutions, when we talk. We know the nuance of emotion in a friend’s tone of voice or  facial expression and can read those in each other as we speak or listen. These familiar cues and the background that exists in established relationships confirm or refine our thought process as it comes out of our mouths.

More other-directed. When women talk and listen, we practice the art of giving and receiving. We move beyond our own opinions and life happenings into a discussion of what and how others have been doing.  This can happen online, but there we can also more easily opt out of a conversation with a short comment or none at all. In a physical setting our conversations are longer and more immediate. That requires us to become even more sensitive to timing and increasingly tactful when we speak spontaneously.

More genuine. What I would say to a broad general audience is certainly different from what I would say to two or three women I know. First of all, we can be more specific about what we say, which helps us define both the content and the context of our message. And, when we share specifically, we often change how we say it.  That can lead to more heartfelt and sincere words when we not only open our mouths but we open our ears and our hearts.

Good, honest conversations lift women. A back and forth with a trusted friend pulls me into a new point of view like I’m a supporting character in a work of fiction. In reality, it’s still our lives, we’ve just spread our emotions, opinions and circumstances outside of ourselves so we can see them from a different angle. Again, that means more.

More learning. Women understand themselves better when they can evaluate life out loud. Verbalization, especially to someone going through similar experiences, levels out our emotion and provides needed perspective. Likewise, listening to how another woman handles situations as she talks through them herself is an opportunity to learn by example, about what to do or even what not to do.

More nurturing. Nurturing reassurance can happen between two talking women without any discernible words of encouragement given. I’ve come away from a couple of recent heart-to-hearts encouraged to press forward in the decisions I’ve already made. I can’t remember specific words spoken but just knowing that someone else experiences similar emotional plights helped. That’s life-giving to me, and I know it is for many of my women friends.

More personal conversation. My daughter jokes that when I stand around after church or for a long time at a function, I’m “just talking.”  I’ve experienced and participated in criticism or competitive talk and she’s right, if that was what I was doing, I’d do better to not talk at all. But good, honest talk between women has its place. It not only builds and deepens relationships amongst women but motivates us to build conversational bonds within families and communities. For many years I’ve been the only one who likes to talk at my house, but now that they’re starting to catch on, I get to listen.

I don’t know what else to call these conversations than good, honest woman talk. But I do know, this kind of talk can diminish or disappear if we don’t cultivate it. I recognize them when they appear—three or four times in my life this past week—and miss them when I’m not engaged. We can’t force them, but we can initiate them with interest in other people, a willingness to share our heart, and a mind-set that talking can be purposeful.  

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1 Comment

  1. epz
    Jul 8, 2009

    Thank you for the beautiful insight, especially the different nuances of positive communication, including being a good listener. I am trying to be a better one, it is something that I have been working on.

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