Have you ever felt that a person you are talking to just does not know how to maintain a stimulating conversation with you? Have you ever felt that you don’t know how to have a quality conversation with someone? I have a many friends and their personalities cover a wide scope of types, but one thing they all have in common is that they desire to have good conversation at times. That works for me because I am a huge fan of hanging out at coffee shops and just chatting it up.
What I notice is that some of my friends have trouble caring about what others are saying, namely what I’m saying at times. I have this issue too, so I’m certainly not saying I’m perfect here. The trouble is that we often get so consumed with our own perspective that it is difficult to put ourselves in another’s shoes and really feel what they are telling us such that we can respond to them in earnest. And so there we will be with our coffee and desire to chat, but with no true interest in what each other is saying, or something nearly to that extent, if feels.
I have a solution to this problem. When you are listening to a friend talk and you just don’t really care about what they are saying, but do care about their friendship, try taking a step back and slowing down your thoughts, then picture every word they say as if it forms a shape in the air. Once you do this, you can see something interesting about the shape of what they are saying and when this happens, start nurturing a curiosity about your newfound interest. Ask questions.
Asking questions is a great way to nurture conversation and to ensure that you are not skipping over a person. It is a great way to find out things that you may be interested in pondering later, if not really at the time you are engaged in conversation. Last but not least, it is a great way to start to engage with a person and to find a topic that interests you about them.
But only asking questions is weird. I have a friend who does this and at some point I get a very strange feeling from her. It is as if she can’t relate to me at all and then I miss her input and I start to have very unsatisfying conversation with her. So, while people do enjoy being asked questions and it is one way of making a person feel heard, there is such a thing as question overkill. Do you ever do this?
If so, then here is something for you to chew on. When you ask questions of your interlocutor, know why you are asking the question and once you get the answer, reveal your reasons and relate those to the answer you get, don’t just ask another question. This is a way of bridging your differences and makes it possible for two people to understand each other on a deeper level. If your goal is not to understand or be understood, then I wonder the integrity of your questions.
Last but not least, in this day of text-messaging and multiple mediums for conversation that allow us to carry on more than one at a time, if you want to have quality conversation where you are sure to make the most of your interactions, don’t take advantage of all that is available to you at one time. Stop and make eye contact with the person you are speaking to. There is nothing worse than talking to someone who has their head down looking at their most recent text-message than talking to someone who isn’t giving you the full capacity of their mind because of their most recent text message.
Also don’t forget to really listen to the person before you respond. If you are at the stage of being able to finish sentences for one another stop occasionally and make sure you are getting those endings right.
As a final note, especially if you have a tendency to be the overkill questioner, please give the benefit of doubt to the person you are talking with, don’t argue every point. First absorb their perspective and sit there in their shoes for a bit before arguing yours. Apply the principle of charity and open your mind to the fact that not everything you know is global knowledge. Give in your conversation the gift of charity of belief and support towards others. Be supportive of your friends in just about everything they do, even if you must also be honest about your disagreements.
If you can do these things, your conversations will improve dramatically. That is if they need to.
Please feel free to add to this post. I love feedback on my topics.