Having Better Conversations With Others

Growing up, the only conversation I knew existed was to do what I was told to do and do not ask any questions. Ongoing conversations between a parent and a child rarely existed, let alone asking a child their thoughts about anything. As a matter of fact, I risked getting yelled at or a whipping if I opened my mouth to say anything about my feelings or thoughts about something. This, in my opinion, was my foundation for lack of effective communication skills.

As I got older, I knew there was a better way to communicate with family, friends, those I knew and those I didn’t know yet. I became more interested in learning why people are the way they are and what experience(s) did they encountered as to why their communication is the way it is. Speaking from past experiences, I would not walk up to people and start conversations and would only speak to them if they spoke to me first. As time went on, again, I felt like I was not communicating like I wanted to communicate with others and wanted so much more out of communication. As a child, on up to adulthood, the only example I had was talk about each other behind their back, never talk to them again, and convince others not to talk to them again either. When I decided to make it a priority to become a better communicator, my life evolved and got better. I lost some people along the way because I began to speak up for myself and set boundaries.

Recently, I watched the Ted Talk video by Celeste Headler, “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation”. Some of the things she mentioned was: Don’t multitask during the conversation, use open-ended questions, don’t equate your experience with theirs, listen, and be sincere and brief, just to name a few.

I’m a straight-forward kind of person, so I don’t have a problem with staying out of the weeds, meaning dressing up the conversation with lots of details. Although I listen pretty well, I could do better by not allowing distractions to disturb the conversation and asking more open-ended questions to get a better understanding. I once thought that talking about our similar experiences would strengthen the conversation, but I later learned that every experience is different and the only experience that matters is the communication of their experience.

The one thing that gets on my nerves is someone that engages in pontification and are insincere. I have been through some major stuff in my life, and I am sure others have, as well, we need all the support and empathy we can get to help get us through the rough patches in life so that we can support someone else in their time of distress. My favorite saying is “People may not remember everything you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel”.