All six-year-old boys have energy to spare, but this little boy was extremely blessed in the energy department. It was often difficult for him to walk rather than to run, and sitting still for more than 20 seconds required assistance from on high. So when I decided to engage him in conversation, I knew that I might be pressing my luck. Fortunately, I chose the right topic: food!
Pulling my chair beside his, I casually asked if he was coming to the soup supper on Thursday night. He shrugged his shoulders as his dangling legs kept swinging back and forth alternately without missing a beat. Then, apparently, I asked a more interesting question. "What’s your favorite soup?"
He sat up straight on the edge of his chair, his legs still and the tips of his toes planted firmly onto the floor. "Chicken noodle soup," he answered.
For a good 90 seconds or so, we continued to discuss the fine points of what makes a good chicken noodle soup. He explained how he likes to help his mother cut up the vegetables. He was clear that homemade is preferable to canned. He even described how he likes to slurp the noodles, although he never actually used the word "slurp."
Then, as quickly as it had begun, our conversation ended; and I watched him run toward the door to go outside and play.
Despite the absence of other six-year-olds, I managed to spend another 20 minutes visiting with some boring adults while finishing my cup of tea and stuffed celery. As the reception was winding down, I saw a group of three women chattering and gesticulating with great animation by a table near the door.
When I approached them, one woman chortled, "You have to see this!" There, on the sign-up sheet for the Thursday night soup supper, in wobbly print, were these words: Noodle Soup, Bobby and Mom.
I hope they make a double batch, because there are going to be a whole lot of people waiting in line behind me to get a taste of Bobby’s and Mom’s chicken noodle soup.
Do you ever really know how a conversation with you affects someone else?
What clues do you get?
How do you choose your words with others?
Will you approach conversations differently today?