November 24th – 3oth is Better Conversation Week. Becky Lancashire tells us why it’s so important.

Photo: verlaciudad
Photo: verlaciudad

I sit with my friends around a table eating a meal. I could have been talking about absolutely anything. I could have told them that I’d had a horrific, life-changing accident that day, or that I’d been given a massive pay rise, or that my beloved pet had died, or that I’d had lunch with the Queen – but they wouldn’t know.

They weren’t listening. Why? Let’s just say they were distracted by the technological plague that’s grasped us all. Let’s just say we were in completely separate worlds.

I’m talking about the texting bug. The inability to let go of our phones even for long enough to hold a decent conversation. The ‘mmm’ and ‘oh yeah’ answers we use time and time again, simply because we were too absent to actually listen to the question.

Sometimes I find it an amusing game to throw something wild and shocking into the conversation, just to see if anyone would actually notice – I’m sure if I yelled “Justin Bieber is sitting in my flat wearing my clothes as we speak”, some alarm bells might start ringing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m a saint – I too treat my iPhone like an extra limb, constantly scrolling through social media feeds and checking my notifications to keep up to date with absolutely everything; except, of course, the all-important reality which lies before me.

But why do we do it? Why have we become a society so uncontrollably, unhealthily obsessed with this social (yet arguably anti-social) world?

This week, from the 24th to 30th of November, has been dubbed Better Conversation Week since 2002; an attempt to overcome what many believe is the slow dying of the art of conversation. A time when we should focus more on what we are saying and how we are communicating with each other. A time when we should cherish absolutely every moment and say everything that we want to say.

It’s true that you never know when a conversation will be the last you have with someone, but can we honestly, hand-on-heart, say that we always treat it as such?

So, put down your phone. Turn it off, put it in your pocket, ignore the messages – do whatever you need to do. Just for one week, enjoy all the things you’ve failed to notice for so long.

Prove to yourself that you aren’t completely disconnected from reality. Prove to yourself that you actually care about those sentences you too often miss. And prove to yourself that for one week you can, and will, have much better conversations.