The Art of Conversation
Conversation Skills – Part Two
Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed. Robert C. Gallagher
How true is this quote! Many children engage in a continuous conversation when it is bed time, in an attempt to not go to bed.
Do you know someone who reels out a monologue to their listeners, and doesn’t realise a conversation requires dialogue? A garrulous person doesn’t just like to talk, they indulge in talking for talking’s sake. Some people cannot keep quiet and others remain silent. On the other hand, we all know someone who has the knack for good conversation. They have a manner which can set a stranger at ease.
There are some guidelines or reminders for engaging in conversation. The obvious ones include being attentive, actively listening, having some talking topics ready, tailoring your contribution to your listener, taking your turn to speak and thinking before you speak. However, there are some other tools you can use to have an effective conversation and one that maximises the contribution and enjoyment by anyone present.
Here are some other recommendations:-
Ask open-ended questions.
These are questions which cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Such questions allow the respondent to include more information, feelings, attitudes and show understanding of the topic.
Ask the person to clarify what they have just said so you have a greater understanding. The respondent can then give a simpler explanation and/or more information. Alternatively, you can paraphrase what the person has said in your own words and then ask, ”Is that what you are saying/meaning?” To be certain you have heard exactly what is said, you can repeat what was said. This is often called parroting.
Show you are willing to accept a different perspective. Use phrases such as:
I can see your point, however . . .
That’s a good point, but . . .
I see what you’re getting at, however . . .
I can see what you are saying, but . . .
I can understand where you are coming from, however . . .
I would feel the same in your situation, however, we can sort this out by . . .
I know how frustrating it can be – let’s . . .
Encourage the other person, or persons, to contribute to the conversation. This can be done by saying phrases like:
What do you think?
Is this the same for you?
What do you like?
What would you suggest?
Why is that so?
How do you know . . . ?
When speaking, think of the emotions and possible implications you may create when talking to others. Be careful to not imply negative conclusions. We all come from different backgrounds and circumstances. Tread softly if you don’t know the person well or know they may feel vulnerable to what can be said.
Validation can mean several things. In a conversation you may need to validate the other person’s feelings so they feel understood and/or that you are supporting them. For example, “No, you are not worrying over nothing. You have a very good reason to worry about your problem.”
You may need to support someone you has provided information. For example, “I have also seen evidence of this happening, and I agree that the steps you are taking are correct.”
Be willing to compromise. Compromising is coming to an agreement, usually with all parties making concessions. It may be choosing a film which suits everybody. Perhaps you want to stay out till 11.00pm and your friend wants to stay out till 1.00am. Midnight would be a compromise. There may have to be a settlement of a dispute with concessions made to reach a compromise.
This is taking action or ending the process of a disagreement or hostility. To conciliate means to become agreeable or reconcile. To do this you will probably need to apologise. Maybe you will need to self-disclose, concede, take responsibility and express positive feelings to initiate that all parties gain.
Show gratitude as often as you can. Some phrases you can use are:
I’m deeply grateful to you for . . .
I sincerely appreciate . . .
I value the time, effort and work that (name) has done for . . .
Special thanks to . . .
Thank you for . . .
Practise these aspects of conversation to improve your conversations. Conversations should be fun.
Click link How’s Your Day Going? blog. Conversation Skills – Part One