Beginning a conversation is an act of bravery. When you initiate a conversation, you fearlessly step into the unknown. Will the other person respond favorably or unfavorably? Will it be a friendly or hostile exchange? There is a feeling of being on the edge. That nanosecond of space and unknowing can be intimidating. It shows your vulnerability. You don’t know what is going to happen. You feel quite exposed. There’s a chance you’ll experience embarrassment. Yet this very feeling is what allows you to connect to the other person.
Feeling vulnerable is an act of gentleness. Bravery is an act of fearlessness. Without these two, conversation will never be initiated. Vulnerability is feeling, and bravery is staying with that feeling. Through those two elements, you dare to exchange yourself with others. Not only are you able to put yourself in their shoes, you are such a daring person that you can take a leap.
Therefore, starting a conversation has the quality of leaping. Without bravery, you may never ask someone out on a date. You may never invite someone to dinner. You’ll miss out on meeting people who could become friends.
Bravery is different from being aggressive, foolish, or just hoping for the best. Aggression forces itself on a situation. It comes from a place of anger and insecurity. Bravery comes from being synchronized—in the moment, mindful and aware of your surroundings. Then you leap. When you say, “Hello,” “How are you?,” or “Good day,” there is an atmosphere of magnanimity. In that moment you are expressing your state of being. Similarly, conversation can be a form of celebration. You are happy to be alive, and happy that the other person is alive, too.
The act of beginning a conversation is a very revealing moment. Do you cower from the situation? Or are you ready to leap? By leaping, you are deciding to connect to your own heart, which is expressed by saying, “Hello.”
Excerpted from THE LOST ART OF GOOD CONVERSATION: A MINDFUL WAY TO CONNECT WITH OTHERS AND ENRICH EVERYDAY LIFE © 2017 by Sakyong Mipham. Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.