22 years of conversations here's what I've learnt
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22 years of conversations here's what I've learnt
It’s more than merely talking
A conversation, the simple act of engaging in a dialogue with another person, or even ourselves, is an art form that we take for granted.
It’s down to the fact that it’s so easy to have a conversation these days, it is the norm to use your phone to call or text someone anywhere in the world!
But while we may be having more conversations in our lives, the quality of these conversations are most definitely diminishing. We’re almost at a point where what our discussions amount to is just two people shouting barely related sentences at each other, and who wants that in their life?
So due to the fact of me not wanting to lose the art, here’s what I’ve learnt in my 22 years of conversations.
Listening over Speaking
If your mouth is open you’re not listening - Buddha
The real art of a conversation lies not in the speaking element, but the listening. It seems in this era of humanity, we want to pontificate more than ever, listening with the intent on replying solely to make sure our point is heard and taken on board, irrespective whether it adds to the conversation.
In a conversation like this, the fact of the matter is, when the barrage of your opinions does eventually stop flowing, you find yourself unsure of what you even took away from the dialogue, it’s almost a feeling of emptiness that we are left with.
Granted a conversation is a two-way street, but for one to extract the most from it, being able to shut up and truly listen to the other person/ people is a necessity. Be present with the thoughts this individual is trying to convey, don’t multitask, in attempting to figure out what you’ll need to eat for lunch or how you’ll reply oh so elegant using a bunch of jargon that you think you know the meaning to… Sorry, what were you saying? - is where you’ll end up.
Conversational competence is not a skill taught. It’s one that we pick up unconsciously by osmosis, so to really, truly understand the thoughts, feelings and emotions of an individual, give yourself holistically to listening.
Be more interested than interesting.
In the vast quantity of content I’ve consumed in the 22 years of my life, this concept has come up time and time again. For years I’ve unknowingly brushed it to the side in the belief it was something I was already doing, when in fact it couldn’t be further from the truth.
Coming into a conversation with the mindset of wanting to be more interested in the other person instead of wanting to show how interesting you are, is the equivalent of truth serum.
Now I’m not suggesting you take on the mindset of a news reporter and in essence, interview your conversation partner, that doesn’t go down too well! What I would say is take the approach of getting them to think about the question and what feelings they have attached to the answer.
The dialogue you can have with individuals feels like a weight has been lifted, primarily due to you consciously choosing to ask open-ended questions (the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) to learn more about their experiences. It’s the notion that you have something to learn from an individual thus giving up the need to talk about yourself which in turn allows the individual to feel a sense of comfort that someone is taking a genuine interest in their life, resulting in a better quality conversation.
Remember this is no such thing as a dumb question, no matter what people say!
Silence is not an enemy.
We have this idea in society that silence is the enemy of conversation. We actively fear the lack of noise, as if the beasts of the shadows will come out to gobble us up. So, what do we do? We talk for the sake of talking, which to our detriment means we end up conversing in circles about gibberish. We end up telling people the things they want to hear instead of the things they need to hear.
We become so focused on the things people are saying, instead of the things people aren’t. Not everything can be conveyed verbally; there is a wealth of knowledge resting in the silence of the conversation, like the threads of a jumper waiting to be pulled delicately out.
Do not fear silence in a conversation; silence is a friend. In fact, silence can be the best conversation starter.
Use it, don’t neglect it.
Have more of them
I’m the type of person who yearns for deep, emotional, high quality, intellectually stimulating conversations. For years I’ve always thought that there was a time and a place for them, this idea wasn’t helped by the fact that they happened more often than not in the early hours of the morning when I should have been asleep. Now I realise, probably through the necessity to relieve my mild insomnia, this type of conversation can be had with everyone at any time.
By merely scheduling time with the people I want to develop relationships and have better quality conversations with, the hunger for wanting more out of a conversation has evaporated. We have both the small talk chit chat and the soul-searching big talk. But the point is I made the mindset change to view each conversation as one where I could explore, develop and learn about our relationship.
There is plenty of content out in the vast expanse of the internet, which will explain to you how to have the best conversation to extract the most out of it. Some suggest we have to sit in certain positions, make sure to acknowledge every other sentence. Others believe when an important point is made, leaning in is the answer.
All of this is useful to have a conversation without actually having it. But the crux of having one that we walk away from and feel like it hasn’t been a waste of time. Well, that’s where we immerse ourselves wholly, prepared to be amazed but by no means expect amazement moreover making sure that we are genuinely interested in the dialogue we are partaking in.
What are your thoughts on conversation? Let me know in the comments or drop me a message on any of the following social networks. I would love to hear from you! — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Youtube.