Have you ever sat back and just listened to a conversation between two men who are acquaintances or new friends? Men, have you listened to yourself in a conversation with a new person? It’s not necessarily surface level but somehow there is still no substance. We tell stories to each other where we always wind up being the hero. We make fun of others that are not there to defend themselves. We tell tales of hookups that almost happened and why the other person is to blame that we did not get any. Or we tell jokes that never get sincere laughter. There is a profound layer of disconnection when many men communicate.
That disconnection can spawn from many sources. Some men may be introverts, who are traditionally slower at letting others in. Some could be tired or lazy and just don’t want to exert energy towards curiosity or compassion. But more often then not the disconnection occurs because of insecurity.
Insecurity causes humans to hold themselves back, to be more concerned with status, and to share less of their story. It forces one to assume more both about the other person and about how we think they feel about us. This leads to building walls, talking defensively, and prevents us from getting hurt. But it also prevents us from connection.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Good Will Hunting. And in one of my favorite scenes, we can see both sides of men in conversation—the insecurity, and the connection. Notice how flippantly Matt Damon’s character is speaking in the beginning. When is the last time you were that way in a conversation? How did you leave that convo: indifferent or insightful?
Then watch the way Robin Williams’ character opens the door to connection. Who was the last person you interacted with that did not let the conversation stay disconnected? How did you leave that convo: indifferent or insightful?
Men we have the opportunity to change the way we speak to each other, but it is going to take courage. Take another man out for late night pancakes and allow yourself to be curious about him. Much like Robin Williams’ character, that may mean sharing some of your own story first, but that’s a risk you must take. As he said in the clip, “Your move, Chief.”
I am excited to announce that I will be doing more programming targeted at men specifically. To read about my new keynote/workshop please click here!
Quick warning, there is some vulgarity in the clip. Please try to push past that and see the deeper meaning. And if the video does not work, here is a link to the video on YouTube.