Conversation Poem

Conversation Poem by Sue Ellson Emus in Wartook Victoria on 22 November 2023

Conversation Poem

By Sue Ellson


We are taught to read
We are taught to write
We are not taught to listen
It simply isn’t right


Everyone has a story
That needs acknowledging
To truly be heard
And ease their suffering


In every moment
We can fund the sunny
We can find the funny
We can find the honey


We can connect
We can grow
We can dissect
We can see below


Into all of the reasons
From all of their seasons
Behind the mask of symptoms
We can find their problems


There may not be
An instant cure
But if we listen
We’ll find what’s pure


Every meeting
Of four eyes
Is a chance to engage
And explore their whys


As we listen
As we laugh
As we learn
We find the heart


Of what it is
We all desire
To share the flame
Of our soul’s fire


Confirm how they feel
Identify the because
Put it in words
That’s how empathy works


Be present whilst they feel
Bear witness to their light
For it is in conversation
That we can restore our might


Awaken the sunrise
Allow the sunset
Listening is magic
And has a ripple effect


In every moment
In every meeting of four eyes
Listen and learn
And find a surprise


Conversation is power
It has its own reward
It helps us find
A new way forward


With someone we know
Or anyone new
Be ready to chat
This is your cue!


This poem was commissioned by John McCann, a client of mine and psychologist who shared with me some of the insights he has gathered as a result of being a psychologist over many years, but also after going beyond what he has observed in his practitioner role by starting random conversations with people out in public.

Conversations can release powerful chemicals in the brain including dopamine, serotonin, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is a nerve growth factor and endorphins. Who wouldn’t want to help others (and ourselves) enjoy these benefits?

In writing this poem, I summarised the one hour discussion on his main insights. The empathy formula in listening involves reflecting back how someone feels and stating why – you feel X because Y.

I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia and whenever I went out, I would say hello to people passing by. It is not as common in Melbourne. On a recent trip back from Adelaide to Melbourne, I had several random conversations, and I would have to say, they were the highlight of my trip – you can read my ‘Afternoon Chat’ poem here.

On behalf of both John and myself, I would like to encourage you to have random conversations too.

Don’t wait until you have grey hair or be scared to do so if you already have grey hair!

It will be pretty easy to tell if someone doesn’t want to keep the conversation going and you can just stop! But you may just be surprised at how many people appreciate a random little chat.

How can you start a chat? According to John, it is as easy as finding something in common. Safe topics include the weather, food and travel from my experience. But also in certain contexts, you will find something to get things started. At a music concert, I recently asked the person next to me if they played music.

In a queue in a public place, people often stand and stare in silence and yet that could also be a great place to make a little joke and get the ball rolling. Be observant of your surroundings and start with an observation you have made.

I would however suggest that you avoid personal questions. One of my pet hates is when someone asks me where I live and if I own or rent the property – how rude! Would they like to know my bank balance as well???

Another great tip from John is to focus on the positives. Acknowledge the cleaner and your gratefulness for the work they do. Alternatively, comment on the gorgeous colour of the clothing the person is wearing. Ask them about their favourite thing to do or place to go. I am sure you could also search online for some great ‘conversation starters‘ you can learn and have ready to go.

Nevertheless, I hope this poem inspires you. John has been an amazing inspiration to me over the years, so it is indeed a privilege to gather some of his insights in a poem that condenses his wisdom into a quick read! With love, Sue Ellson 🙂

Photo is of Emus coming out of the bush in Wartook Victoria on 22 November 2023.

#trulybe #conversation #conversationpoem #SueEllson #SueEllsonPoem #poem #poetry

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