Healthy conversation encourages and nurtures relationship building.
A good conversationalist promotes feelings of respect, commonality and good-will.
These tips are especially useful when meeting someone for the first time but they also work in our relationships as well.
Despite years I spent in higher education, I never learned the practical, everyday skills of starting and holding a conversation.
Many people don’t know basic conversation skills—somehow these basics are taken for granted even though communicating is essential to promoting healthy social relationships.
A 70-year-old friend of mine first learned these conversation skills from a hair stylist.
1. Make eye contact.
This makes the person we’re speaking to feel seen and acknowledged. We are showing them that they have our full attention. Eye contact makes the person we’re speaking to feel validated and respected. Being fully present in our eyes allows for greater personal connection.
2. Speak honestly.
People can sniff out lying, the truth will always come out sooner or later. If we speak the truth, we won’t have to remember what we’ve said.
3. Answer a question with a question.
This keeps the conversation lively. It shows that we are interested in getting to know the person we’re speaking to. When we ask them questions, they feel respected and validated. It also puts us in a proactive position inspiring self-confidence to steer the direction of the conversation.
4. Don’t divulge an opinion.
This is especially important regarding topics such as politics and religion. Speaking about controversial subjects can shut down a conversation by creating a “me versus you” mentality where it is difficult to find common ground. These types of conversations can create an angry atmosphere as opposed to ease and nurturing of the relationship.
5. Don’t gossip.
Don’t speak about people not present. This may make the person you’re taking to feel like they are not interesting enough. It could put them in an awkward position if they are uncomfortable talking about someone else. It also creates an air of suspicion, leaving who you’re talking to wondering if you will speak about them behind their back.
I hope these suggestions help you have quality conversations in all situations, with people from all walks of life.
Author: Stephanie Lee
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock