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How to Improve Your Conversations

Updated on January 10, 2020
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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.

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