The Art of Conversation

We are living in a time when every conversation we get ourselves into has the potential of resolving into an argument. Currently, almost everything has people fighting for and against, even the most trivial things, meaning people will prefer to avoid conversations even more as time passes. Pew Research conducted a study on 10,000 adults and concluded that we are more polarized and divided than we ever have in history. The results also suggested that we are less likely to have been compromised, meaning that people are not listening to each other. Pew Research also indicated that an average person sends at least 100 texts a day, with most people; almost all of them, less likely to speak to the same people in person.

Face-to-face time < screen time

We have already established I’m a people person, so I will propose some rules or guidelines to guide all of you to improve your conversation skills. Every conversation can develop into a fruitful engagement; the conversations you get out of feeling understood, enlightened, and engaged. With these guidelines, you increase the chances of unlocking such mundane but essential skills. You do not have to follow all the “rules,” but with each rule comes its plusses, so if you pick any of them and follow-through, you will notice some improvements.

Now, I know all of you have heard that you need to pay attention, nod, look a person in the eyes, and all the rules of having a good conversation. But, my theory is that’s all crap, we should never have been made to listen to that BS… seriously, there is no reason to practice how to show that you are paying attention if you are really paying attention!! I think people are just crazy, sometimes.

Do not multitask, and this goes beyond having to set your phone down. What I mean is you need to be present! Do not have a conversation while at the back of your head all you are thinking about is what to cook for supper, your argument with that guy, or whatever other things.

If you do not want to be in a conversation, don’t be in it… this way you don’t have to pretend to pay attention.

Be open-minded – You need to enter all conversations assuming you have something to learn, so don’t be fixed on your opinions. One of my favourite quotes on this from the famous therapist Scott Perk states, “true conversation requires the setting aside of oneself” in so doing, you genuinely open up your mind to learn from the engagement. Everyone you meet knows something you don’t!

Use open-ended “big talk” questions to invoke thought. I’m not too fond of small talk, the kind that involves asking things we do not care about, but we pretend to listen. People do that, sometimes, me too! Instead of asking people how was your day, ask them what they liked about the day. That way, they may have to pose for a moment and think about it, and most of the time, you get an interesting reaction.

Detach from the mind – We all don’t like to be judged, but we do it all the time. This is how I see it; we are so prone to judging others because we too much identify with our minds. Meditation and psychology have taught me that we cannot trust our minds, and in conversations, the mind keeps circling new thoughts and ideas sparked by the engagement. You need to ignore the thoughts and go with the flow, do not interrupt the other person at every moment you get!

Do not equate the other person’s experiences with yours. It is so unfortunate that most of my friends and not just friends, even those people I have had close to me throughout time, always have an issue with this one. If you are one of them, sorry for the bust but, it is what it is. If someone has trouble at work or broke or tired… Please, for heaven’s sake, do not compare your tired or brokenness with theirs. Just listen. Growing up, I have learnt that every experience is personal, no matter how familiar, so let people tell their story!

Forget the details – Whenever I’m having a conversation with my friends, I see them struggle to come up/remember details such as the date, the weather, time and all of that. While it may be appealing, it is super boring because all I care about is you. I’m wondering what you are like, what you felt, not some dates and time zones.

And the most important one, Listen!! I cannot begin to explain how important it is to listen. I have interacted with people of diverse cultures, and one thing that always stands out is that person who can sit back and listen. People don’t want to listen because they’d rather talk. When I speak, I don’t listen to things I don’t have an interest in; I am in control. But good conversations require a balance between talking and listening. I know it takes effort and energy to listen, but without listening, you are just two people speaking barely related sentences at the same place.

These days, people do not listen to understand, they listen to respond, so in a world where men exists, be the man that actually lives. And finally, be brief. For this, ill make it a little easy to remember

“Conversations, like a miniskirt; should be short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject”

Celeste Headlee’s Sister.

Go out there and have good big talk conversations. Good conversations will always teach you something, so check your conversational skills against this scale, and if you genuinely feel there’s nothing new here, I have nothing but respect for you. If else, you know what to do. And, Thanks for the read; Muchas gracias y te quiero!!

2 thoughts on “The Art of Conversation

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