Isn't it interesting that we live in a time when communication couldn't be easier or more accessible through the medium of smart phones, social networks, email, Skype and other forms of technology, yet actual face-to-face conversation seems to be a diminishing art form?
In my leadership and ministry role, I get to converse with a variety of people from diverse backgrounds and I have noticed four types of people who engage in conversations...
- Those who aren't fully there
- Those who over share
- Those who constantly compare
- Those who don't care
As I observe and engage in all sorts of conversations I have also noticed some conversation killers common to these four groups of people. These observations are not only of others but of myself, as I am a passionate, talkative and opinionated person who is often guilty of perpetrating these conversation killers in my own conversations!
What are they, you may ask?
Let me answer by offering six conversation cultivators that seek to remove the conversation killers and restore the art of conversation...
- TUNE IN - Be fully present in your conversations. Put your phone away, remove distactions and look people in the eye when you talk to them. Let them know that they have your undivided attention.
- TEST INTEREST - Give a snapshot or summary before telling the whole story. Don't assume others will be as interested in a detailed account as you are. Share enough information for them to want to hear more.
- TAKE A BREATH - Provide escape routes. There are a variety of reasons why a person may want or need to exit a conversation. Also, give them a chance to engage in dialogue, not just listen to a monologue.
- TALK LESS - Don't forget to listen! Active listening often speaks louder than our words. It says that you want to hear as much as you want to be heard. It fosters mutual interest in each others stories.
- TRANSLATE SIGNS - Observe body language and emotions. It is said that communication is only 7% of the words we use and the rest is made up by our tone and non-verbal indicators.
- TRY NOT TO COMPARE - Avoid counter-stories. You may identify with a story or have a similar experience, but the quickest way to kill a conversation is to divert attention to yourself and risk making the conversation all about you.
Effective communication is essential to all relationships and face-to-face conversation remains the foundation to all human interaction. Avoiding conversation killers will enable us to rediscover and restore the art of conversation.