Talking With or Talking To

I had a bit of a revelation some time back, when I re-read a comment I’d written on someone else’s Facebook page. I wrote something about ‘talking with someone’. That word WITH rather than the more usual TO is the key, I feel, to good communication.

When you’re talking TO someone, your own words are your focus, and you are more interested in putting forward your own view. When you are talking WITH someone though, there is more room for the other person’s views, you are more open to hearing them, and considering what they are saying. You can have a conversation, each thinking on what the other is saying.

All too often, talking to someone is just two people spouting a monologue, rather than two people having a dialogue. You can spend an awful lot of wasted time talking to someone, where neither of you gain anything new and useful. When I first found out about my MS, I gained a lot of knowledge by asking questions and listening.

Whether it’s medications, diet, exercise, life skills, whatever, when you discuss things by talking with people, the knowledge expands for all arrive. This is why I feel peer support groups are so valuable.

me making point at book launch

If I had spent my time talking to others who already knew much about MS (those with medical knowledge, or with lived experience), then my own knowledge wouldn’t have increased, when I was at a time when I need to know more about this disease. When you are talking with someone, there can be a sharing of thoughts, with wonderful ideas arising, truly a case of a thing being greater than the sum of its parts.

In this photo, yes, I am talking to people, but I gave the audience plenty of time for their own questions at any time, and afterwards there was coffee and cake, and plenty of time for everyone present to talk with me and everyone else there. Talking with, not talking to!

I’m interested in what others think about this idea …

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