The following article is a guest post.
Conversation takes up a huge proportion of our direct interaction with people. It’s vital for connecting with others, forming relationships and sending and receiving cultural and professional information. Yet do any of us really think about how we actually perform this common action?
Sure, many of us might feel we are too quiet on some occasions, too loud at others and cringe at memories of putting our foot in it. But we still don’t focus on the actual process and act itself. That’s why On Stride Financial have decided to take a look at how we can really make the most out of the conversations we have.
Making The Most of Our Conversations
They found that big changes can come about if we simply concentrate more on the conversation we are having. It’s normal for people to let their mind drift or to try to do something else while having a conversation. We put so much pressure on ourselves to never “waste” a moment that just focusing on one thing at a time comes to seem like slovenliness.
However, UCL has found that the brain simply can’t focus fully on both sounds and visuals at the same time.
So, one of the most basic steps to better conversation is putting everything else aside, phone included, and simply concentrating on the person or people you are conversing with.
When you do this, you might also find that the hidden cues you pick up from body language also greatly enhance your experience.
For example, 55% of understanding whether someone likes something or not is communicated by their facial expression.
Another common way that we lose focus is by just using the time while our partner is talking to plan our own response. We can often get so caught up in the excitement and fervor of a discussion that we lose track of one of the most important aspects of it, actually listening to what the other person is saying.
Other than that, it’s just a monologue with an audience. To stay interested, take note of things the other person has said and ask them about it when they’ve finished. This will clarify what they have been talking about while also letting them know you are listening.
Communication and Technology
It’s also important to remember that new communication technologies have radically altered how we interact and how we see conversations.
A Twitter conversation with a stranger that lasts five responses would give us the impression that we are now best friends with the person. While the same would not be true at a bus stop or supermarket check-out.
Real life personal connections need time before they can flourish into something mutually enjoyable. This happens by actually listening to your partner, valuing their time by making your speech as relevant as possible.
A good way to ensure your part of the conversation is as interesting and well-remembered as possible is by structuring it around the elements of a story. A study of Stanford students showed that 63% of students remembered information when it had been laid out as a narrative, but only 5% remembered the same information when it was given as pure facts or statistics.
While conversation might not always be one’s favourite activity in the world it is essentially unavoidable unless one plans to become a modern day silent hermit. Considering that, it makes sense to embrace it and find out how to make it as beneficial as possible for us, rather than something we may often dread. By investigating how to have better conversations and practicing the advice that we find, we can do ourselves and our future partners a huge favour and make the event more interesting and worthwhile for every party.
Check out the infographic below for more tips on how to become a better communicator: