Thinking Topic: How to converse

Most times people don’t have a conversation, they talk at people. Don’t really listen (as they are planning what to say next). As part of the Meaningful Discussions project I host, we discussed the topic – The Lost Art of Conversation.

We watch a number of videos, and I diligently took notes. Here are some helpful tips.

How to Have a Good Conversation

Points, made by me as I watched the video. You can watch it for yourself below

KEY POINTS

  • Unfriending people on FaceBook as they said something offensive
  • Now more polarised than ever in history, less likely to compromise
  • Make decisions on what we already believe – we need to listen more
  • Third of US teenagers send 100 texts a day and more likely to text than talk face to face
  • You can talk with people even when you disagree
  • You don’t need to learn how to show you are paying attention if you ARE paying attention!
  • Use interviewing skills – 10 basic rules
  • Don’t multi-task, be present. Don’t think about anything else
  • Don’t pontificate – if you just want to state your opinion, write a blog. Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn. The speaker is more likely to open up. “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t”.
  • Use open ended question – who, what, when, where, why, how – were you terrified – yes, I was. Better to say: what was that like? how did that feel?
  • Go with the flow – let thoughts go. We may think of a question, but let it go, focus on what the person is saying. You should not be waiting to interject.
  • If you don’t know, say that you don’t know – err on the side of caution.
  • Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If they talk about their problem, don’t talk about yours. It is not about you, don’t take the moment to prove how amazing you are. Conversations are not a promotional opportunity!
  • Try not to repeat yourself. You have a point to make, but don’t keep making it.
  • Keep out of the weeds – people don’t care about the detail, dates etc, they want to know about you. What you are like, what you have in common
  • LISTEN – the most important skill you can have. We don’t listen as we would rather talk, and we are the centre of attention. “Most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand, but with the intent to reply”
  • Be brief – be interested in other people

Talk to people – listen to people and be prepared to be amazed


How to Have a Good Conversation

Rarely do we find a sincere, deep connection

  • We aren’t taught how to have a conversation – too often we stay on the surface of events – where we went, what we saw, not how we felt or what it meant to us. We talk about facts, not feelings, which are the only conduits to real connections. Or we insist, not explain feelings. We skirt raw emotions and opt for bland chat.
  • Sometimes we can’t keep a conversation on track, so we open new windows, digress, until the thread is lost
  • We can shape conversations. There are crossroads, paths to lead to greater intimacy or ongoing superficiality. For example meeting friends from university, you haven’t seen them in ages. Rather than steer conversation on to which uni, what did you study … go deeper. Gosh 10-12 years, you’ve changed, they have … what would you say to your younger self with what you know now? Far more interesting.   
  • Good listeners are good editors, trimming away what is superfluous, getting the speaker to focus on what is really at stake. The speaker says their mum died, but then focuses on the superficial, draw them back to the important topic.
  • We like it when people show vulnerability. We think to get people to like us we need to show how well things are going for us, but, surprisingly, that’s not very appealing. We need to know our own sorrows have connections with others. Its vulnerability that builds friendships.
  • We may come together, but we do need to connect.    

How to Get Out of a Boring Conversation

Sometimes the person you are talking with is boring, but they are so wrapped on in themselves they don’t notice your loss if interest. In a fun video some ideas of how to react is to choose from these

  • Sneeze
    • Moon walk away
    • The scape goat – pass on to someone else
    • Wait a second before replying
    • Take a phone call (it’s on silent)
    • Go to the loo
    • Hand on back – got to go …
    • Pretend to hear your name and leave

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