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How to Improve Your Conversations

Updated on January 10, 2020
PAINTDRIPS profile image

As a baby boomer, Denise and millions of others are becoming senior citizens. She explores what it means to be over 60 today.

They start so young.
They start so young. | Source

Social Media Syndrome

Is the art of conversation dead? Do we even know how to relate and interact with each other outside of social media? Are we enabling the next generation to loneliness and disconnection even though they claim to have hundreds of “friends?” Is social media a good thing or a bad thing?

It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

— Yogi Berra
Source

Authenticity

Lynda: What makes for successful conversations? Being authentic. The ability to share our hearts. To listen to each other and truly feel heard.

I asked a few of my friends what makes for good conversation and I got a variety of responses. Most of us are committed to social media, and I have to say that I don’t want to write it off altogether just yet. I like it for the most part. It allows me, an introvert by nature, to be bolder and to interact with more people than ever before. But it also allows anonymity in that I don’t have to share much of myself with people. They don’t really know me and I don’t really know them. I think Lynda is saying just that. How can we really share our hearts in only a few words? It would take books and hours of time to write where you are truly coming from.

A single conversation across the table with a wise man is better than ten years mere study of books.

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Gymnasts conversations
Gymnasts conversations | Source

The Right Words

Merrily: To use the right words.

I’m sure my friend, Merrily could have gone deeper but I know what she means. It isn’t politically correctness. It is downright kindness in the choice of words and inflection. I think it is hard to get inflection just right on social media but in person, you can look into people’s eyes and see what they mean even when they have trouble choosing just the right words to say it.

Source

She had lost the art of conversation but not, unfortunately, the power of speech.

— George Bernard Shaw

Is Conversation Lost

In a world full of social media, is the art of conversation lost?

Linda: If you want to just show & tell, you can do that but you are not really connecting. However, sometimes people can genuinely listen and respond, although it takes an effort to get deeper than just one or two rounds of responses going. If Facebook were a volleyball game, there would not be many exciting volleys happening back and forth. However, Facebook can be a decent platform for practicing listening and responding.

Linda is right. Social media is only a tool. If you already have a relationship with the person you are interacting with, there is a foundation and you can get closer and deeper with this tool. If you don’t know them from Adam, it would be hard to really know them on this tool. Misunderstandings could be more commonplace. That being said, I have made “friends” with some pretty special people on social media and we seem to share many of the same feelings and experiences. If I met them I may find that I still don’t know them very well. The social media relationship could be an illusion.

Source

Listen

For real meaningful conversation, there needs to be listening. It isn’t all about you. That is part of the problem with social media. Mostly it is about you; maybe that’s why it is so popular. In a conversation, you have to spend at least half of the time listening and absorbing what the other person has to say, and not just prepare your next statement or argument.

Good conversations need eye contact. When the eye wonders, you know you have lost your audience or conversation partner. Social media does not allow for eye contact. It’s that simple. Yet, that cannot be a hard and fast rule. Many people don’t make eye contact and are good conversationalists: blind people for instance.

Ted Talk on Conversation

I like that in this video the speaker suggests that in a good conversation, you enter in assuming you have something you can learn from the other person. What a great attitude to bring to a relationship. If I agree that I don’t know everything there is to know on a particular subject, I can really enter into a conversation with an open mind and ready to receive information I may not have thought of before.

Source

New York Times Article

I read an excellent article recently about a group of 526 American people from all walks of life and different political backgrounds, who were flown to a conference in Texas to have engaging conversations about today’s issues. You would think there would have been mass arguments and heated brawls, but instead, they were able to express their ideas and opinions in open debate. Many left there completely changed. It is well worth reading. I think this happened because people got to face each other with their life concerns and were not some anonymous faceless entity on social media spouting liberalisms or conservatisms.

Source

A good conversation is like a mini skirt, short enough to retain interest, but long enough to cover the subject.

— Celeste Headlee’s sister

Final Thoughts

I think Celeste Headlee said it best when she said the when you talk to someone and listen to someone, be prepared to be amazed. I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      Donna Rayne,

      Good for you. You sound like an unusual person wanting eye contact and conversations. I like that. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Donna-Rayne profile image

      Donna Rayne 

      20 months ago from Greenwood, Indiana

      I loved your article, it is so true that people walk around with their heads down looking at their cell phone. Well, I refuse to do that and keep my phone in my purse and I make a point to say hi to the people I cross paths with. Some respond startled and some were surprised a stranger talked to them. And others were happy to say hello back to me!

      Conversations are easier in person, where you can have eye contact, watch their body language and interact with one another.

      It seems like a lost art thanks to the cell phone, computers, tablets and so on...

      Blessings always,

      Donna Rayne

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      Mary Norton,

      Well said. It is a tool and I myself love being able to check in on my children living far away and see what my grandchildren are up to. I do still wonder about the younger generation becoming too addicted to it. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      20 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love to think that because of social media, we are able to talk to friends for free when before the prices were prohibitive. We are now able to update each other and hear each other's voices. Social media is a tool and in the hands of sensible people, it helps for a very meaningful conversation.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lorna Lamon,

      Very good advice for people who want to improve. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      William Kovacic,

      I'm so happy you took the time to read my thoughts on conversations. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      Along with failing to listen is the practice (that I fall into as well as others) that allows you to pick and choose what conversations are more interesting in social media. We can jump in a comment when we feel we have something to say without even knowing or caring that someone else has already said the same thing 10 posts ago. It almost seems rude to me not to read the whole conversation before putting in your two cents. It seems to be the same as not listening, to me. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      20 months ago

      Unfortunately social media has caused us to become more concerned about how relevant we are and less about truly connecting with another human being. Sadly due to this lack of connection many people do not know how to converse in real time. Perhaps asking your friends over or meeting up will not only improve your health but also the art of conversation. An excellent article Denise.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      20 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      A lot of good thoughts here, Denise. If everyone in just one, I think the world would be better - just my opinion. Thanks for taking the time to make this survey.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      20 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Hi Denise The lack of conversations let us know the lack in listening and care for what the other has to say. It has become an issue to communicate with those who fail to listen. Interesting and a well written hub.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      Liz Westwood,

      Very good point. I often forget the names and details of conversations. It is a bad habit to fall into because it implies that the person wasn't interesting enough to remember. I know I have to work harder at remembering. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      20 months ago from UK

      I was pleased to see 'listen' in the list. I would also add 'remember'. It means a lot to someone if you remember what they have said previously and ask how things are with them. It's too easy to kill conversation by talking about ourselves. It's also boring because we know it all anyway. It's much more interesting to learn about how others are getting on.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      20 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill Holland,

      I'm sure you are right. Who doesn't want people to ask them questions about themselves? Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      20 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I'm an introvert. Always have been. Having said that, I've always been good in conversations, and I actually shine working retail. Why? Because people fascinate me. I am truly interested in what they have to say. I ask them questions about themselves, and I really listen to their answers.....it all comes down to caring, me thinks.

      blessings always

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