How Well Do You Really Know People?

A friend yesterday said how she’d had a tough time Christmas shopping that afternoon.

The problem wasn’t so much the endless queues, tacky shit, people pushing and shoving or falling over themselves trying to get a 20% discounted hairdryer in Tesco for cousin Charlotte, no, it was something far darker and sinister.

“I find it difficult knowing what to buy people, and it makes me realise just how little I really know them”.

Isn’t it totally true?

I find it difficult myself – I don’t know what movies people have seen, like, got, whether they have normal or Blu-Ray, I have no idea what books people have read, what ornaments go well with what, etc etc.

If you settle for something generic it just looks thoughtless. It is difficult, and all the more so because we live in a culture where everything is accessible and most likely downloadable.

But back to the point.

How well do you really know your friends? And family? We seem to slip into a sort of rut whereby we take people for granted, they just become superficial characters that we think are easy to understand.

“Oh, Dave likes James Bond stuff, just get ‘im a calendar or somethin'”.

Dave says “ah, cheers mate, yeah, that’s good that” but is thinking “what a pile of toss, I’d have rather had the ten quid you wasted on it”.

Its easy to take people for granted though, we’re able to reduce meaningful conversations to Facebook wall messages, text messages and emails.

I don’t talk to my friends as much as I used to, and I assume that most people are too busy to talk. But its a shame, because that great zone where you really get to know someone becomes more and more elusive.

Its so interesting when you have a real conversation with a person, where you discuss fears, insecurities, goals, anxieties, perceptions, stuff you think might be embarrassing but actually isn’t at all, where each persons insights and confessions spur the other to open up more and more, until you really feel like you’ve delved into someones soul a little and really got to know them.

So perhaps it’s totally stupid to go trawling the High St to buy some tack, when you could have spent the same amount of time just talking to whoever you were trying to buy for.

I would much rather have drinks and meaningful conversation with a friend than get another bloody calendar about hamsters, that’s for sure.

What do you think?

Related – We’re All Alone in This Together

Related – When No-one Asks After You


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  • Christmas Presents.

    Many years ago I asked friends/colleauges not to buy meChristmas presents. I received two reactions, 1) that I didn’t really mean what I said and 2) that it would take away from others the pleasurable experience of ‘giving’. The following year I continued to receive presents. Over the years I too began to slip back into buying presents feeling a sense of guilt or obligation – bah humbugs!

    Last year, however, I decided to try the suggestion again. Having given it some thought, I carefully worded a note and enclosed it with my Christmas cards saying that I preferred not to receive presents for Christmas but if anyone felt they would like to do so, I suggested that they made a donation to a charity, giving the Salvation Army’s work of feeding the homeless during the festive season as my preferred choice.

    The feedback I received was that they are now happy to comply with my original request but “already give to charity”. So the suggestion was accepted in the end.

  • It is very true. People do not know people anymore as well as they used to. In some cases this is a good thing but for the most of it, it is a shame. I believe it boils down to people becoming lazy and uninterested in each other unless there is personal gain. But whatever happened to making someone feel good and special and having that feeling returned 10 fold because you simply done a nice thing without the selfish thoughts which usually pollute our mind.

    As a result of this, people are lacking more and more in confidence due to a down turn in social interaction and real conversations. This has contributed greatly (in my opinion) to the increase in stress/anxiety and panic attacks. As a Clinical Hypnotist in Ireland, I see many people suffering the above problems as a result of the attention (or lack of) they put into social development. We are a sociable species. Why don’t we socialise the way we want to anymore?

    Social skills are extremely important and need to be grown and developed on a daily basis have two friends in their mid 20’s who are almost social out-casts due to the fact that they neglect the need to talk to other people. This has developed into a drinking problem for both in question. And by drinking problem, I mean drinking every night of the week with very few exceptions since late teens.

  • I think it’s true – it’s very easy to slip into a comfortable, habitual way of relating to people.

    Some years back, my grandfather died. I would see him and my gran every couple of months and never really thought about our relationship. It came as a sad surprise when, at his funeral, I found out more about him than I had in the 20 odd years that I’d ‘known’ him – how he’d got his George Medal, how he met and wooed my gran, why he became a farmer. It made me realise that he’d become a cipher to me, fulfilling a role rather than being a real person.

    I resolved to make sure that things were different with my gran and just tried to listen a bit more…

    Of course, when you do this there’s always the chance that you may not particularly like what you come across. Oh, don’t get me wrong – my gran’s great; as yet I’ve not unearthed any sordid secrets or nasty opinions.

    But I have discovered her love of the cheesiest, most sentimental and emotive musicals – the sort of thing that sets my teeth on edge. And I now have no excuse not to get her exactly what she wants for Christmas and birthday – I can no longer plead ignorance! Last year it was a trip to watch ‘Songs from the West End’ (and, of course, at 92 I can’t exactly send her on her own). This year I’m praying that no-one in Devon has thought to do a rendition of anything by Gilbert and Sullivan…

    Be careful what you wish for!

  • Thanks for the post Saffron – really interesting and inspiring. I wonder if ‘getting to know people – properly’ could become a new social hobby of sorts, having the confidence to ask more penetrative questions of friends, explore peoples lives and values a bit more. The excuse for many of “oh, I wouldnt want to be nosy” is surely a tragedy in the making… The amazing hidden depths in the people we think we know and the invisible barriers that we don’t push past.

  • It is true fact. People forget or do not know the one from whom they have met or they used to. It is because of their uncomfortably or uninterested in them. It is very shameful. The people are losing the social interaction with others and losing the confidence due to their unknown behavior towards the other person. Hypnotherapy is using to solve this situation and to change the behavior of the person. It makes feel the person relaxed and comfortable. Be careful and make your confidence with a great identity with hypnotherapy.

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