So much of the time, we are absorbed in our own lives, concerned with our own problems, and not truly present in the conversation.
Think about how much of a waste that is to be engaging only half heartedly in conversations.
We don't have all the time in the world so we need to make our social interactions count, particularly the ones that mean the most to us. Today I'm giving you five strategies to make the most out of your conversations.
Let’s get to it.
Every time we participate in a conversation, the goal is to do that mindfully. That means, take the focus off of you and place it on the conversation partner. What is the person saying? How are they saying it? The best way to approach mindfulness in social interaction, is to let go of the ego. Don't think about how you're going to impress them, or what image you think you're projecting, or anything else that places all the focus on you. If you're overly worried about how you're presenting yourself, you're either going to be presenting yourself too stiff or inauthentic, when you don't mean to be.
With that in mind, let's move on to the strategies.
Plan out what you want to ask. Much like you would prepare for an interview or a high-stakes phone call, I encourage you to prepare some key points and questions. This will help focus the conversation on key points and help you eliminate any fluff. When planning out what you want to ask, think big picture and high-level. Once you’ve determined the direction you want to go in (e.g., life advice, stories from their youth, a challenge they’ve overcome, etc.) then you can point to specific instances, events or questions that help guide the conversation. You can jot down an outline or just keep it in the back of your mind. To promote natural flow of conversation, I’d recommend that you stick to no more than three bullet points so that you can have that on your mind without fumbling around for your piece of paper or have to read your outline off your phone. We want the phone out of sight if we’re having a conversation because it makes sure that both parties are engaged to the fullest, without any notification bells stealing our attention.
Ask better questions. The central theme to this is to be mindful of their time and energy. Formulate questions that get to the heart of what you want to ask. If you're talking to a mentor or family member about life experience or seeking their life advice, be attuned to any sensitivities surrounding those experiences. If certain events drum up painful memories, you want to tread lightly. Ask their permission, be empathetic, and show that you’re cognizant of heavy emotions tied to certain memories. And when I say ask better questions that means two things: to ask a more meaningful question and to be aware of how you're asking that question and pay attention to any sensitivities the speaker might have. Respect that if someone doesn’t want to talk about something, don’t force them. Respect their emotions and wishes and move the conversation forward.
Listen to the answers carefully. You’ve heard me say before that communication is a two-way street. You talk but you also listen. In the context of having meaningful conversations you want to be extra aware of your listening skills. Be sure not to over talk. In fact, make it a goal of yours to listen more than you speak. When you do speak you can think of good segues and connectors to expand on what’s just been shared. And that brings me to my next strategy.
Find good follow ups. Because you’re doing such a great job listening, you’ll have no problem thinking of what to ask next. Since you can’t necessarily prepare your followup questions ahead of time as they’re contingent on what’s already been communicated, what you can do is consider big-picture themes. Those are potential directions you can take the conversation. For instance, what were the teachable moments, how did you grow from this experience ?)
Show up ready to learn. Be receptive to their ideas, insights, lessons learned and be ready to soak up the wisdom they impart on you. Keep judgment out of the equation and instead listen with empathy and compassion. If you don’t understand something, ask another question! When you are showing up to learn, no question is too silly and no idea is too small. Receptiveness is about opening your mind and expanding your worldview. It makes for a better conversation experience when you’re fully engaged and ready to learn.
We discussed five strategies to position yourself better to have meaningful conversations. Most of the time, when we have conversations with people we’re so preoccupied with our lives and our problems that we are not fully present. The five strategies are the antidote to distracted listening and give you a blueprint for having conversations that go beyond the superficial and into the more meaningful. I encourage you to give these techniques a try in your next conversation.
Alright Explearners, that’s it from me today. Thank you so much for joining me for this lesson. I hope that you enjoyed it.
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