First, a Welcome Note for 2013:
I hope that all of my readers had a successful transition into the new year. Since I “posted” and sent out emails of my book’s chapters for almost 23 straight days, I figured that I’d spare you all a post or two before writing to welcome you into 2013.
If you enjoyed my book that I posted throughout last month, please write a book review on Amazon.com for me. It’s one of the best gifts I can receive. If you were confused about any of the book’s content, feel free to send me a message to get more clarification on anything that I wrote about.
Practice Conversing with Others
I’ve been called a very sociable person quite a few times in my life. In fact, whenever someone asks me what I like to do for fun, one of my answers always involves talking with and understanding other people. If someone is sitting or standing next to me, I don’t usually have a problem engaging in a conversation about whatever it is that the person wants to share. To me it’s pretty easy because, arguably, everyone’s best subject to talk about is him or herself. Think about it.
Have you ever realized how quickly a conversation can shift from something that you were talking about to a relatable something that another person in the conversation begins talking about? If not, the next time you engage in a conversation, consciously key in on this. Most people would rather talk about themselves than listen to others. So for me, all I have to do is ask an open-ended question and watch the conversation take off. I usually never ask a question of a stranger that’s going to result in a “yes” or ”no” answer. Most often, I ask questions such as, “why do you…” or “what do you think about…”
To do this confidently, though, one has to be genuinely concerned with what another person is saying. This is the only way you can ask follow on questions in order to keep the conversation going.
The positive thing about his approach is you’ll seldom have a silent moment. Again, people can talk all day about themselves. You just have to learn to be a great listener. This means holding your thoughts until the other person is finished speaking, even though you may have your own thoughts that are worth interjecting into the conversation. Trust me, doing this is what makes people want to talk to you. The longer you listen, the easier it will be to develop follow-on questions and most importantly, a relationship. The more concerned you appear, the more a person will open up to you.
Practice Keeping Your Cool when Others Share their Thoughts
The dark side to keeping conversations going is you’ll never know what you’re going to get. It takes understanding and acceptance of all ideas in order to keep others in engagement, no matter what they say. This is what most people can’t do, especially when conversations such as religion, politics, and social sciences begin. For example, what if someone starting talking to you about how religion is fraud and is only a concept that was created to control people?
You have one of three options, with a couple of sub-options in between:
1) You can get offended [tell them to screw-off] and then respectfully walk away from the conversation.
2) You can try to argue your opinion, which will probably end up turning this option into option 1. Or,
3) You can try to understand why someone believes what they do, be accepting to their ideas, and then comfortably (or uncomfortably) transition into another subject of conversation.
I usually opt for option 3, trying not to judge in the process.
In order to carry out great conversations, we have to learn to accept other’s ideas. We don’t have to make them our own, but we should at least consider why they believe, which is more important than what they believe. The worst thing we can do is attempt to convince people against their will.
Practice having great conversations in 2013 and beyond by starting open-ended conversations, having a genuine concern for others, listening intently before interrupting, and respecting other people’s opinions, no matter how crazy we think their ideas are. If we do this, in the end, we will still gain something from their perspective, even if it’s just a conversation.
What do you think makes for a great conversation? What other conversation tips have you learned? What is the most awkward conversation you can remember having with a stranger?
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DisclaimerThe opinions expressed on this blog are mine and represent my views only. I have very strong opinions, but am also an open-minded individual. If you refute my view with supported, educated and well-argued points, I could very well change my opinion.