Improving your Conversation is not so much a matter of doing more, but less. Five Ways to Improve Your Conversation:
- Let Go of Sarcasm
- Let Go of Being Right
- Let Go of Wanting to be Understood
- Let Go of Gossip
- Let Go of Reaction
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Let Go of Sarcasm
Sometimes a cutting remark can emphasize a point or expose wrong-doing. But as a habit of conversation, sarcasm is no good. It expresses contempt, coming from a closed heart. If this is an issue, then you get rid of it by observing yourself while being sarcastic. As you observe the monkey-mind you note “There it is, being sarcastic again“.
Ask yourself: Would I like to convey are more optimistic, life-affirming message? How do people view a sarcastic person? Do I wish to be perceived as bitter and angry? Consider these questions and how you’d prefer to converse in the future. Just think about these things and your attitude has already shifted.
Let Go of Being Right
To be right while making another wrong is not the purpose of conversation. If that’s the motive, you won’t have much fun. But that doesn’t mean there should be no disagreement. Disagreement is wonderfully mind-expanding. Good-willed people can sit in disagreement without the need to put the other down, without feeling awkward and without the conversation ending because of it. None of this is about right and wrong, it’s about sharing viewpoints, noticing differences and commonalities and learning. With some maturity, you are happy to agree, disagree or to be disagreed with. Too much agreement can end a conversation.
Let Go of Wanting to Be Understood
Seek first to Understand before being understood. A good conversationalist extroverts interest and listens carefully. That’s what makes him or her pleasant to talk to. Good conversation requires a release of the Ego. The Ego is preoccupied with survival. It wants to be right, wants to be understood, wants to make others wrong, and loves sarcastic remarks. What a miserable conversation that would be! You will be easily understood if you are at ease and attentive. But if you are too strongly focused on being heard, being understood, being noticed, you won’t be. At the root of all social awkwardness, shyness and failed communication lies the preoccupation with self instead of extroverted interest.
Let Go of Gossip
Gossip is appealing at first sight. Especially if you’re bored or don’t have the creative power to come up with a better topic. The lazy mind then talks at the expense of others who are usually not present to defend themselves. But who really feels good after a long round of gossip? Observe. What is your state of energy after pointlessly chatting about the latest rumors? If you limit gossip, you free up attention and energy for more interesting conversation. From within, you have much more interesting things to say which can now come to the surface because there is less superficial chatter. Observe a group of people engaged in intense gossip. How do they look to you? Do you want to look that way? Observing yourself releases bad habits of conversation.
Let Go of Reaction
It can be helpful to sometimes delay reaction before responding. Give yourself an extra breathe, an extra thought, an extra second or more. Delayed Response instead of knee-jerk reactions, allow your words to be more measured and conscious. It shows that you’ve actually been listening rather than thinking about your next answer. It’s much better to closely listen to another than to calculate your next answer, and is also felt by the other. Delaying reaction also reveals whether the other has more to say. Sometimes people are not even looking for a response, they are looking to get something off their chest. I spend a lot of time just listening, and people walk away from the “conversation” perfectly happy and don’t even notice that I did not say anything. But I was present and attentive, and that’s often “saying” much more than pointless commentary.
There are many more ways to improve your Conversation, but these are five important ones that will instantly upgrade every chat you have, anywhere, with anyone.