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E-Quipped to... Correct Conversational Gaffes
This newsletter draws on 'The Art of Conversation', and introduces 'Seven Common Conversation Errors… and How to Remedy Them!' comprehensive articles found on my website.
The UN has proclaimed the 30th of July the International Day of Friendship. The idea is that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities. To mark the International Day of Friendship, the UN encourages governments, international organizations and civil society groups to hold events, activities and initiatives that promote dialogue, solidarity, mutual understanding and reconciliation between people.
With the amount of abuse, terror, xenophobia and war taking place in the world today, the idea of inspiring peace and building bridges is possibly more important than ever before and is not something that we can afford to leave to governments, international organizations and civil society groups to achieve. Each and every one of us should be playing our part. And we can. How? In the simplest of ways… by having conversations!
Image by: Alan Levine
Conversations for Peace
The idea of having a conversation to inspire peace and build bridges is so ludicrously simple that you might be about to laugh it off, but please don’t. Think about it…
By seeking conversations with friends and people we know, we can build on the harmony and peace that surrounds us because we are communicating. By seeking conversations with strangers and people who are different from us, we can create a bridge out of mutual understanding and reconciliation. It really couldn’t get any easier – but we must do it correctly!
How do we do it?
Most of us think we know how to have a conversation and so do it without thinking, but there is actually an art to conversation and it’s a skill well worth developing.
Please read my article 'The Art of Conversation' for tips on how to enhance your conversational skills.
Common Conversation Errors
Of course you should always try to avoid making the errors that so many people make when having conversations. For example:
Conversation Error No. 1 – Fixating on Unnecessary Detail
You’ve probably been in a conversation when the person telling the story forgets a name or a date and spends the next few minutes trying to remember it, instead of getting on with the story. It’s tedious and boring! You couldn’t have cared less about the name or the date – you just wanted to hear the story.
Cut the detail. Names, dates, years, model of car etc. are usually not important. If you can tell the story without them, then do so. When it comes to conversation, the less verbal clutter the better.
Conversation Error No. 2 – Not Making Introductions Promptly
If you have been chatting to a friend when a third person comes up to speak to them, you will know how uncomfortable it is if you are not promptly introduced. You stand listening to the two of them feeling like a spare part, with both you and the new comer glancing at each other awkwardly, wondering who the other is.
Make introductions promptly. If someone comes over to talk to you, introduce them to the others as soon as you and the newcomer have greeted each other. Smoothly make it a part of the greeting.
If you are the newcomer and you are not being introduced, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. It may be that your acquaintance has either forgotten your name or the other person’s. By introducing yourself, you save them from embarrassment.
When it comes to conversation, the sooner you make introductions the better.
Conversation Error No. 3 – Pretending you Understand
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who spoke ‘over your head’, using specialised language or jargon or words that were not part of your vocabulary, so that you didn’t really understand what they were talking about? It can make us feel stupid, so we pretend we know what’s going on! The result is that the conversation is one-sided and boring, and we avoid future conversations with that person.
If you don’t understand – ask! No one can know everything about everything, so it’s ok to ask questions or admit to a lack of knowledge on topics that you know little about. It’s the way we learn. Nobody minds if you don’t fully understand their subject of interest – it gives them a chance to shine and show off their own knowledge!
And don’t be that person that nobody understands. The sign of intelligence is not the person who can trot out big words or use technical jargon; it’s the person who can speak at the level of their audience – whoever that audience is – without being patronising or condescending.
Conversation Error No. 4 – Not including Everyone in the Conversation
Ever joined a group chatting together at a party and felt like an outsider because you don’t know what they are talking about? It’s distressing and you wish you had never come over to join them.
When someone comes over to join your conversation, immediately help them to join in and feel part of the conversation, by telling the newcomer what the conversation is about. For example, “Hi Mary. Welcome. John is just telling us about his holiday in Morocco.” And then let John continue what he was saying. You can say this quietly as an aside to Mary alone, or say it loudly for everyone to hear. It does mean interrupting John for a few seconds, but this is not as rude as it would be to ignore Mary.
Of course, you should never ever bring up a conversation that only a few people in the group can be part of. For example, if three of the five people in the group work together and start talking about a work situation then the other two are going to be left out of the conversation. That is just plain unkind and rude.
For more common conversation errors please read: 'Seven Common Conversation Errors… and How to Remedy Them!'
What do YOU Think?
Share your wisdom with others… What tips do YOU have to improve conversation?
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About These Newsletters
You may have been forwarded this email by a friend. In that case, allow me to introduce myself. I am a psychologist, speaker, trainer, coach and hat lover based in Durban, South Africa.
My goal is to inspire you to make the changes necessary to live the life of your dreams! I believe that by developing your YOU-Q - the term I have created to describe your unique intelligence, creativity and wisdom - you can find your Inner winner and live a Be-YOU-tiful life right now.
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