It has been said that one of the best ways to connect with people and build quality relationships is through conversation.
A good conversation is supposed to feel natural and flow. However, some of us might not know how to get the conversation flowing in a healthy way. So, if you are bad at conversation (and let's face it, most of us probably are at one point or another) take comfort in knowing that you are not alone.
Conversation is a skill that must be learned, and here are five ways to get better at it:
1. LISTEN FULLY
I think one of the most significant communication problems is many people do not listen to understand. Instead, they hear to reply. The saying: “Listen in such a way that others love to speak to you” is so true and also so important. One of the greatest gifts you can give a friend when they come to you for guidance and conversation is the gift of your full attention.
2. DON’T INTERJECT
Life is full of enough interruptions as it is, so hopefully, your conversations can be an “interruption-free” zone. Even if you don’t mean to, interjecting in a conversation can be rude and can sometimes indicate to others that what they’re saying is not that important to you.
Whether you realize you are a chronic interrupter or not, there are ways you can avoid doing this. Try not to think about what you are going to say next, and instead utilize active listening during the conversation. Be engaged in the conversation instead of thinking to yourself, What am I going to say next? Another tip: wait a few seconds. When your friend or loved one is done talking, wait for a few seconds and then respond. That way, you can be sure the other person is finished speaking.
3. DON’T MULTITASK, GIVE YOUR FULL ATTENTION
Do you find yourself talking about unrelated topics during a conversation? Or, do you routinely take phone calls or texts during a convo? When we engage in multitasking like this, we convey that we are too busy to care about what others are saying to us, and that’s not a good look. Your partner, family member, kids, co-workers, whoever they may be, want your full attention. And if you continue, you may multitask your way into isolation if you don’t change your ways. Put the phone down and look directly at the person you are speaking to. It can only benefit the conversation.
4. PRACTICE COMPASSION/EMPATHY
With this one, try to take yourself out of the equation. Stop thinking about what you would do or how you would respond in their situation. This is all about seeing things from their point of view and hearing about their experience and supporting them. Also, learn the power of touch. A simple, comforting touch from you, by placing your hand on theirs or their shoulders can make a world of difference.
5. ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS & GO WITH THE FLOW
Build up your conversation skills by mastering the art of an open-ended question. The ability to ask excellent open questions is essential to help forge stronger connections with those you are close with. Closed-ended questions result in short, condensed answers. Open questions should solicit a lengthy response from the other person. They should share their thoughts and feelings. Ask things with the words ‘how,’ ‘why’ and ‘what’ in them to ensure the conversation keeps flowing.
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