Last week's post spoke to how the Jefferson Dinner created the opportunity for respect in the conversation so that every participant felt equally heard. This week, it is about when the conversation should end. Sometime soon I will talk about the conversation needing to end after it has been an unenjoyable interaction, but this week I am going to stick with the positive and focus on how an enjoyable situation can end without depressing those involved.
At the Jefferson Dinner, after three DEEP questions were asked and discussed in their own turn, the Dinner host said
"I wanted to ask a last question but the conversation feels pretty full and I don't want to push it any further."
I thought that was quite interesting because it was a strategic stop to a conversation and a powerful example of how a positive conversation can be cut off and still is appreciated. I felt equal parts agreement and disappointment when he said that because even though the mental effort needed for the conversation was rather tiring, it was still so interesting, engaging, and new thought-provoking for me. As minutes went on, I realized how profound stopping the conversation at that point had been. It allowed us to casually chat about whatever we wanted as we were cleaning up because we still had enough energy to do so, and it left us with the buzz of how enjoyable the overall conversation was, which promoted our continued thinking about the subjects long after the event.
It often happens that we humans do not want an enjoyable experience to end. Duh, that is obvious. We want to promote enjoyment, in fact. However, there are times when a fun party becomes un-fun because it goes on too long, or a first date loses its luster because the couple got dessert after drinks and did not leave the positive energy for a second date (Okay, bad example: dessert doesn't harm anything...but you get the point).
Too much of a good thing is exactly that: Too much.
Just like pushing the limits of an amount of recreational drugs, you will not continue to get the same high. It will wane. It is also pretty human, though, to avoid ending the experience because of our natural sensitivity to loss. It feels absolute. Finite. As though it could never be experienced again. Emotional hangovers are real too after a super fun party.
Do not fret. Here is what you do:
- When an enjoyable interaction or situation is concluding, whether you or an external entity is concluding it, take the step in that moment to plant the seed to continue the enjoyable parts of that situation in the future.
You cannot replicate the exact same situation because life and people move on, but following the following steps will help you feel like the enjoyment has not died forever:
- Identify what is so enjoyable about the situation. Is it:
- the subject of your conversation
- something about the individual with whom you are speaking
- something about the setting where you are
- something else?
- If your enjoyment is related to the individual before you or the conversation topic, plant the seed in whatever way is comfortable about continuing the conversation with them again, either over coffee or planning to meet up at an event again sometime in the future. If it is not comfortable to do so in that moment, reach out to them the next day and tell them how much you enjoyed the conversation and go from there.
- If it is something about the setting or event, use that characteristic to focus your search for similar events or parties going forward. Doing so will help you weed out so many parties and events that may not invigorate you.
Energy does not die, but gets transferred to a new system or setting. What was enjoyable about the Jefferson Dinner for me has lingered because of how and when the host ended the dinner. The exciting mental energy I felt during the dinner transferred from being passed around the table to inside my brain alone and I have continued to think about the subject in my head. Not only has it motivated me to write blog posts about it, but it is something that I am excited and comfortable to bring up with others and initiate discussions of my own.
Because the party has to end does not mean that your enjoyment does.