10 ways to have a better conversation
Relationships can be created or ruined just by words. Deals with stakeholders can be broken off if we use inappropriate words. Words carry an undoubtable weightage that influences consequences. That is why we have an old saying, "the word is more powerful than the sword" because it is, in fact, a hidden weapon that can be used for or against us. We have to know the right wording today for certain people.
However, every conversation has two possibilities; it could turn out great or become sour. Even worse, it could lead to an argument. Which is not our objective for today. You are here right now because you want to know the best ways to sustain meaningful relationships. No matter how near or far you are with the person you wish to communicate with, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you master the art of carrying a conversation.
According to Pew Research in 2016, the study found that we are divided, more polarised, more distant than we’ve ever been in human history. We become less likely to compromise on shared opinions and the root of the cause is because we don’t listen to each other.
All of your life, you talk to a lot of people with diverse backgrounds but are you sure you know how to communicate?
If you take a step back and reflect, you’ve had great conversations that left you astounded, inspired, discovered something that’s never crossed your mind, validated, and made you connect with the person really well. And that is all due to you paying attention and listening actively. Let’s be better in communicating and listening to preserve those meaningful relationships that have lasted for a long time.
While engaging in a conversation, don’t drain your brain by putting too many things in your head. Be focused and eliminate distractions. Remember, comprehension is the key. You can communicate all day long but does it matter if the other party doesn't comprehend anything at all? Most importantly, be present in the conversation. Imagine how you would behave if they are sitting in front of you. When you are well-prepared and focused for the conversation, they will surely appreciate your effort and initiate conversations more often later. However, if you think you don’t have the energy to talk to someone today, just excuse yourself before they realise you are not paying attention.
As much as you love talking about certain matters, nobody likes to listen to someone preach in a casual conversation. Especially if the person you’re preaching to is the one you don’t connect with for a long time. The chemistry wavelength may be different now so it is advisable to just stay at a steady and light pace. You are there for a fun time, rekindling old moments, and catching up with current life. Why would you abuse your listeners’ ears for a brief satisfaction?
When listening to other’s opinion regarding certain topics, respect their views. Not everyone wears the same lens in viewing the world. If you have the credibility in that area and wish to correct the wrong information, do it appropriately. In exchanging conversation, do expect them to respond not submit. They might disagree with you hence listen to their response. Upon listening, set aside your opinion and embrace others because there are things people know that we don’t.
USE OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS
Asking is essential in communicating. That means we are interested in the plot and want to understand the essence better. It is important to avoid using close-ended questions that limit people to answer Yes or No only. If too straightforward, then the conversation will be strained and minimize input. Worse, you haven’t met that person in so long and you’re not sure how to regain the old momentum - asking these questions will make the situation more awkward than it is.
Alternatively, ask something that is more subjective, something that requires the other party to share their insights; consequently, opens rooms for deeper conversation.
GO WITH THE FLOW
To have a quality exchange, you have to be up-to-date with the information. Don’t be too hung up on one topic for a long time until you ignore the current topic. Like air, let the thoughts in, thoughts out. As long as it doesn’t involve an emergency situation, try to hold your urge to interrupt the flow. Or else, you will miss out on the next important details and spoil the mood.
IF YOU DON’T KNOW, JUST SAY IT
Own up your lack of knowledge in that specific area. No one is obligated to know everything thus it’s okay to not say anything you’re not confident of. Still want to talk about it, give a disclaimer first so that others can choose whether to take in your words or the opposite. Please don’t carry on with your own made-up hypothesis. Could be someone in the room knows you’re bluffing and view you negatively afterwards.
DON’T EQUATE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THEIRS
You might have the same shoe size, but you never walk the same miles as them. Everyone experiences things differently due to different backgrounds, upbringing, emotional capacity, etc. When someone complains about something, listen with your heart; be emphasised but don’t be self-centred. Just like yours, their feelings are valid too. Maybe you think that you would’ve handled the situation differently, but this time just keep it to yourself.
TRY NOT TO REPEAT YOURSELF
This is a universally shared guilty-pleasure. We unknowingly repeat statements to reaffirm the whole story. Sometimes it becomes a habit especially if you’re a parent. Hold your horses, know your audience first. Just a clear statement is enough.
If you repeat yourself, it will come off as condescending to the ears because you are hinting that others are slow-witted. The more you repeat the same idea, the more annoying and boring the conversation becomes. Now, don’t feel bad though. We understand humans don’t realise they do it wrong until it’s being pointed out. There’s always rooms for improvement, you should be aware next time.
FORGET THE WEEDS
Unlike weeds in your garden that bother the beautiful landscape, the weeds in conversation are not that important. What are weeds? It means the unnecessary details that make no significant impacts in your story. For instance, what colour was your blouse, how many people in the restaurant, the exact time down to the minutes, the weather, etc. The audience simply doesn't care. They just want to know what’s up and why that happened.
One tip if the lines are still blurry: Keep the details to yourself if those won’t hurt if they don’t know. Trivial details that are soon to be forgotten the next second most probably will make the conversation pointless. Don’t worry, they care about you but not the small details.
This is the utmost secret to a successful conversation. A simple task but not that easy to do. We acknowledge the struggle to focus and not get distracted but practice makes perfect. You can avoid problems if you listen better. You can steer clear of annoyance if you listen better. You can provide good solutions if you listen better.
As quoted by Buddha, “If your mouth is open, you're not learning.” Perhaps that’s why we have two ears and one mouth. To sustain meaningful relationships, you have to listen with an intent to understand not to reply.
BE BRIEF, BE INTERESTED
Everyone has something to share. You should be proud if they choose you to share their happiness. Hence, it comes down to this last but not least topic, be interested. If you pay full attention with interests poking out of your bright eyes (not creepily of course), people will find you trustworthy.
Be brief with your comments and be prepared to be amazed by others. Once people are confident in you, they will tell you their experience of achieving something awesome. That time, you will be glad you provide a safe space for them because trust us, you won’t be disappointed by the outcomes.
There you go, 10 hacks to sustain meaningful relationships. You know what other strategy to strengthen your connection? Give a surprise gift package! No one could resist a wonderfully curated gift box with a heart-warming greeting card.
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