Thursday, April 9, 2015

What's New With You? Let's move on.

Great books

I just finished reading "The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry" by Rachel Joyce. It was excellent, a 5 star must read!! There was a passage that stood out to me. Harold is walking on foot for this

pilgrimage and meeting many, many strangers. It seems in the short encounters they have, they share some part of them that is vulnerable. In chapter 8 he thinks, "It must be the same all over England. People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside." The conversations he has with these strangers are a profound part of his journey. I can relate, there are some conversations that have impacted my life immeasurably. I love a good conversation, it is so energizing, thought provoking, and inspiring. Those conversations rarely start with "what's new with you?" I think that is why we often like the formal setting of a book club discussion. It allows us to drive the conversations deeper and hear how other people think about and approach life.

Book Club

There really is an art to conversation (different than talking). It is rare to come across people that converse well. There are several categories of people that I come across and I probably fit into one of these as well. There are the big small talkers, they can always keep you talking, but it is rarely anything beyond the weather or shared observances. There are the shameless self-promoters, no matter the direction of the conversation it always comes back to them. There are the interrogators, they ask lots of questions, but it never turns to conversation. Then there are the people on the other side of the conversation that offer only yes and no answers, and are so hesitant to share themselves that make it very difficult to converse.

If you haven't thought about your conversation style lately, or brushed up on practicing some new skills. Here are a 6 tips to get you started :
1. Be Real, Share You: There is also a whole side of conversation that has to do with sharing your whole self. Brene Brown gave an incredible Ted Talk in 2010 about this very topic, titled, The Power of Vulnerabilty. Don't be afraid to show you aren't perfect. It's how we develop real connections. If you haven't watched this TED Talk, do it now.


2. Be present: I heard a quote somewhere that said "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply." We've all been in a conversation, where someone is thinking about something else, or worried about what they are going to say next. Stop, just BE. You will be surprised what people are willing to share, when they can tell you are genuinely interested in what they are saying and actually clued in.

3. Ask thoughful questions: Although it is tempting to comment on the cute skirt someone is wearing and the let the conversation continue on to where they bought it etc...Consider moving past the small talk and talk about something more meaningful. Observe and listen carefully, the questions will come.

4. Shared experience: If you have an experience that is very similar to what they are sharing, err on the side of not sharing unless it really is your own story, then be brief. The last thing people want, is for their experience to be diminished by your neighbor or sister's experience. Instead ask a thoughtful followup question that communicates your compassion, or if you are worried about upstaging their story just say "me too."

5. Outsiders: If you are having a conversation and notice a spouse or a few people on the sidelines, draw them in and include them. You never know what new connections you will make.

6. Stop Talking: If you have been doing all the talking, Ask something thoughtful and then stop and breathe. Allow the other person the opportunity to share, think or participate a little more.

Enough one sided chatter (wink), 

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