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Conversation Topics: What Do You Want From a Friend?

Talking with friends of mine always gives me higher perspectives on my intuitive coaching services. The human interaction as well as analysis of conversation topics both seem to make me be a better intuitive coach. That's why I wanted to share the topic of conversation topics with you.

As an intuitive coach, I often alert people to the fact that of the many conversation topics you may think about, one surely must be 'what do you want from a friend?' I visited with a friend last week in Miami Beach. Each day began with an hour to two-hour walk on the boardwalk along the beach. The waves lapped against the sand nearby, the temperature was warm (hot to Northerners), a breeze usually blew, and occasionally we were sprinkled with a quick moving shower. These long walks made for lengthy and deep conversations, where we discussed the ways of the world and issues in our lives.

Our conversation topics were many and varied, but often we spoke about our perceptions of life, or issues we were working out, in work, life and relationships and what do we want in our friends? I noticed that there are three common ways that people respond to another's concerns, particularly our friends. We sometimes give advice on what the other person should do. It could be as simple as one of us saying, "I've had a problem with blisters," and the other launching into all the blister avoiding techniques she knows.

Another way to answer a friend's concern is to tell her how we handled a similar issue in the past. In an attempt to be subtle, the advice might start out as, "This is how I handled that type of situation. In the past I..." Then the person with the problem is subject to an often lengthy story, which is often distracting and rarely relates to the issue at hand. If we're incredulous and/or inconsiderate, we might question the other's behavior: "Why do you continue to act that way? Couldn't you see that coming?" This challenging approach obviously does little to comfort friends and often alienates them, as well.

When we relate to each other that way our conversations become circuitous. They don't go anywhere. The conversation resembles a tennis match where each person bounces a remark off of the other, and the same conversation topics keep coming up. We may think we're solving the problems of the world and ourselves. Instead, we are merely throwing ourselves at each other and dancing in circles around the same issues. Nothing is accomplished.

It was during one of our walks that I declared to my friend: "I've decided that I no longer want unsolicited advice from others. I don't need someone to tell me how he or she handles a problem when I bring mine up. I don't want to be fixed by someone else. I appreciate that others care about me and want to help. But, any effort to fix another person is bound to fail. We don't know what others need and hearing about how we handle situations is often irrelevant to someone else, if not distracting. I appreciate your concern and interest, and know you want to help. However, I know I can come up with my own answers."

My friend immediately asked, "So what do you want from a friend, anyway? How can you carry on a conversation?" I thought deeply about this and came up with the following answer, which will also become a model for how I treat others. Here is what I want from a friend and also hope to receive hope to receive from my family:

I want someone to listen to me with compassion, objectivity, neutrality and respect. Just let me talk and hear what I say. Don't judge me or analyze my story. Listen to me so that I can hear myself talk and more fully understand what's happening in my life. When I hear myself talk, I more easily come up with objective answers. I see my story mirrored in the listener and gain insight.

Support me. Tell me that you respect me, honor me and have faith that I will come up with the right answer. Love is the greatest healer. Open your heart to me, stand by me and be my open-minded friend.

Ask questions, if you can, that help me to think about the situation in a new way. Don't lead me to an answer that you've presumed, but clarify what I'm saying so that I can also clarify. For example, you can ask what I've done in the past that worked. Or, what have I tried? Ask questions with curiosity and interest, keeping in mind that I will answer my own questions and solve my own problems.

The conversation with my friend also allowed me to think about other ways of conversing. We often talk about others and ourselves. Gossip is a predominant topic of many conversations. How can we entertain ourselves if we're not trying to fix the each other or others we know? Here are a few suggestions for interesting conversation topics:

What do you want from a friend: perhaps you could ask them to tell you about any unusual experiences they have had. Start it off with a question, such as "What is the most exciting thing you've ever done?" Or, "What do you fear most?"

Discuss interesting events that you've read or heard about. These don't have to be depressing world events or criminal situations. For example try, "Did you know that the polar ice cap is now smaller than it's ever been in recorded history?" Or, "Isn't it amazing that hummingbirds fly 5000 miles across the ocean twice a year? I wonder if they do it backwards."

Describe what you see. Look around you and notice your environment. For example, "Did you see the cute shoes on that little kid nearby?" How about noticing the patterns in the clouds? When did you last notice them? I remember walking out of a bookstore one evening and the sky was completely covered by tiny little clouds. The sun was setting and they each were reflecting shades for pink, orange, yellow and purple. I'd never seen such a phenomenon, and stood staring at them for around 15 minutes. In that time many people went in and out of the busy bookstore, and no one looked up to notice the spectacular light show above them. Look around you and talk about what you see and experience in the present.

I'd love to hear your suggestions about other conversation topics. Email me with ideas and I'll post them in the next newsletter.

Remember, you are your own wise man or wise woman. Only you know what's true for yourself. Find your own truth. Then find some dear friends to listen and support you as you journey... and love and support them. We are here for each other as objective and compassionate eyes and ears and hearts.

What do you want from your friends? An open ear that listens, and advice only when you ask for it.