Monday, March 10, 2014

The art of conversation

Hi. How are you?

      Good. Great thanks.  And you?

Great thanks. How are things?

      Good. Busy. You?

Yeah.  Life is crazy right?



      Nice to see the sun again hey?

Yeah. About time.


It may surprise you but I am not an extrovert.  I do not relish going into a group of people I don't know or to a meeting of new people.

But my job demands it. Travelling demands it. Being a communicative human being demands it.

There is little more irritating to me than children, teens, adults who mumble monosyllabic answers while avoiding eye contact.

I get it is not comfortable for everyone to chat away but except for those few individuals with crippling social anxiety the rest of us have a choice.

You can stand awkwardly inspecting your cocktail glass or meeting agenda as if it contained the meaning of life or you can look up and smile and start talking.

It's not rocket science and it can be learned.

I often coach my children (and sometimes Allan too) on a couple of conversation topics or sentences they can start with if they are headed into a new situation with a new group of people. Sometimes on the way to an event I give background on who will be there and some points of contact we might have and that helps too.

I am an avid researcher.  I find out who I am meeting as much as I can. Especially in the work context. Social media was made for social researchers like me.

There are many tricks you can arm yourself with that will make conversation flow more smoothly so that you can actually get past the superficial and the fluff or the mundane relatively quickly.  You come across as informed and intelligent instead of brain dead or tongue tied.

Once relationships are established and conversation flows more easily I find people often stick to the same repertoire of topics.  In Canada we have a curious obsession with the weather. And hockey. Unsatisfying and short lived conversations (except for those delightful persons who can speak on the topic of hockey for 3 trillion hours without taking breath).

While you may not start with the relatively sensitive subjects of politics and religion, I dispute that they are "verboten" subjects. Iron sharpens iron and if we can't discuss and debate these things at the right time and place then how do we refine and sharpen our own thinking?  Having to defend a point of view is an important life skill and being flexible in our thinking vital to our growth and development.

A respectful debate can be invigorating!

I find so often in a group people just agree with one another - it's a particularly Canadian trait I think..... Even if people don't agree they seldom openly dissent.  They just keep quiet.  I know I sometimes choose this path so as not to rock the boat ( I know - some of you think that is my forte!) but I think we do ourselves a disservice when we let matters go just because its easier.  It's easy to offer an opposing or different view in a quiet, confident, non-aggressive manner.  We teach our children that "silence is acceptance"  so let's not model it in conversations they participate in.

I thought this was going to be a short post with a few links but it looks like I had more to say than I thought..... shocking!

Some links HERE and HERE I found both amusing and informative.....

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