Why is it that we, humans, sometimes lack important conversational skills?
It’s all pretty basic stuff, but it seems as though we've lost the urge to fully immerse ourselves in an exercise we should be practicing in our everyday lives.
It’s refreshing and lovely when we stumble upon people who take real and genuine interests in our lives and opinions. It’s now rare for someone to listen to another person without some kind of cellular distraction.
Unfortunately, some of us have become so wrapped up in our own lives that we have forgotten how to converse with other human beings.
You could say that some of us have become lazy or lack confidence and due to insecurities, find it difficult to communicate. Regardless, it’s important that we take the time to practice the art of chitchat.
Yes, we may see the same people at work and perhaps they aren't quite your cup of tea or don’t share your interests, but it can be stimulating to hear about someone else's life, listen to different perspectives or even engage in small talk about the weather. More so than the actual weather, this could brighten up someone’s day.
We can’t predict some conversations — the homeless old guy on the bus could turn out to be the wisest and friendliest person you come across during your day. So, here's some good conversational candy and some sour habits from which to steer clear:
Good: Locking it in with your eyes.
Remember to actually make eye contact during interactions. Your companion will feel more connected to you and will trust that you’re committed to what he or she has to say. It’s hard sometimes, but it's critical to convey respect.
Bad: Being self-centered.
Centering the conversation around yourself and your experience is not cool. Many of us are guilty of this because relating everything back to your own life and experiences is the easiest way to go. However, it’s a copout.
So, kids, practice the “silence is golden” rule. Self-centered interruptions are not only selfish, but will lead a person to likely not confide in you again.
Conversation, believe it or not, does include listening. Let’s be frank: The world doesn't revolve around you, regardless of what your doting grandmother thinks. Become interested in other people’s stories; it will benefit you, lead you to grow as a person and may even teach you something.
Good: Do it like they do on the Italia channel.
Your body language reveals as much about you as your mouth does. Take a leaf out of the Italians' book and start waving those hands around as though you’re conducting an orchestra of your speech. This emphasizes your verbalization and keeps the other person visually engrossed as well. Keep folded arms at home.
Bad: Unhealthy addiction to your phone.
I know it's hard, but try to keep that precious communication device away from your line of vision when someone is speaking with you.
That super important level on Candy Crush you have to complete will still be there later. Sure, it’s difficult to pull ourselves from the networking realm, but it’s embarrassing when we finally zone back into reality and realize we missed an integral part of the conversation.
Ouch, how embarrassing! It's okay though, folks. The art of real human interaction is still pretty cool and surprisingly, still practiced in many communities around the world. I know, I was shocked, too.
Good: Exert confidence.
Believe in your ideas. If you don't, no one else will. Provide your subject with some depth and don't be afraid to speak from an emotional and personal point of view (as long as you’re not boring).
This comes only with great practice, but in time, you will feel rich from the sociable joys you get from communication and interaction with others.
So, here's a challenge for you: Next time you have a spare moment in your day — whether it’s while enjoying your morning coffee, in the elevator on your way to your office or in transit, make a conscious effort to practice your conversation skills. Be communicative with a stranger and make the effort to engage in conversations you have.
We reap what we sow.
Photo via We Heart It