What were you thinking when you first read Chapter 7 in Alice's Adventures In Wonderland? That chapter is titled "A Mad Tea Party." I remember being so disturbed. I had never heard a conversation like that before. I remember feeling like I wanted to stop reading. (Even now when I read it, I get all itchy feeling). I wanted for Alice to run away. I was worried for the Doormouse! I didn't like the Hatter and I was beginning to not like the Hare very much either. When that chapter was over, I was so relieved. This is how I feel so many conversations seem to go these days. They can be full of conflict, misperceptions, and plain old rudeness. In contrast, I was fascinated by the conversations in Jane Austen's novels. There is such a careful selection of words in order to convey the most accurate meaning. Perhaps exceedingly cautious and overstated at times, but still better exchanges than those provided by the nasty old Hatter!
If you feel the same way, here are 10 simple suggestions to help improve the quality of your conversations. So the next time you engage in the fine old art of conversation, try a few of these suggestions out and watch your experience of life improve...
1. Put away the phone
Giving someone your full attention is not only a sign of respect, but essential for having a good conversation. Presence is everything! Put away all distractions and give the moment what it needs to work.
2. Make eye contact
Keeping good eye contact reminds you that you are in the presence of another soul. If you tend to ramble on, especially when you are talking, notice if you are looking away from the person as you speak. Keeping good eye contact helps you know if you are losing your audience. Attention goes both ways, whether you are doing the talking or not. Facial cues are essential when giving and receiving information during a conversation. If you are not making sense, you'll see it in your listener's eyes!
3. Share a secret
If you are feeling vulnerable and like you are ready to explore a new level of intimacy, go for it. Share a secret. Just make sure you're not spilling someone else's secret. No betrayals. You must have exclusive rights to your secret. Sharing harmless secrets that can be kept confidential are one of the best ways to deepen your relationships by inspiring mutual trust.
4. Tell a good story
Is there a story you like to tell often? There is probably a reason why. Find the moral that lies within and you have struck gold. If you are going to tell the story, tell the whole story. Everyone loves a good story. If it is told well, it won't matter how many times you tell it.
5. Ask questions that matter
Small talk is fine, and of course you want to stay informed about current events, but don't forget that we are feeling human beings. Having better conversations means discussing your feelings with people. Your feelings may be obvious to you, but unless you express them, the person you are talking to might be unaware of how you feel. Avoid unnecessary offense or heartache by carefully laying your feelings out on the table. See how the light shines on any situation once you share your feelings.
6. Listen to the answers
The thing about a good conversation is that there is a time to speak and a time to listen. Be present during both of these activities. If you are only half listening because you are thinking about the next thing you are going to say, you are cheating yourself. Stay with the ebb and flow, and trust that all that needs revealing will be revealed.
7. Avoid problem solving
Sometimes a person just needs to vent, or be heard, and may not necessarily be soliciting advice. Unless the person directly asks for a solution to their problem, they are most likely just searching for a little empathy. It is so important to hold that safe space for someone when they are in need of a little empathy. They just need to know that they are supported.
8. Find the positive
If the conversation is turning to the dark side, be the Jedi Knight. Rescue it by looking for the positive in a situation or just steer the conversation in a different, more positive direction. Your friend may not realize it, but they need your strength and guidance because they can't get there alone. Be that life-line for them!
9. Feel better after than before
You'll know you had a good conversation when you simply feel better after it than you did before it. A good conversation is an exchange of energy. When you share equally and in ways that uplift one another, you can both feel restored from it. If you know it is going to be a heavy conversation, because your friend is suffering, then shield yourself energetically before engaging. There is nothing wrong with preparing yourself for possibilities. Keep an open mind and heart, but don't allow yourself to take on negative energies from another person. Instead think of the exercise as a transmutation of energy. Transforming negative energy into neutral or positive energy can occur with a little effort on your part. Sometimes it is useful to ask for angelic help in these situations. Angelic energy is always available to you, all you have to do is ask for it.
10. Make a date for your next conversation
Before the conversation ends, be sure to make a plan for the next one. Mutual intentions to maintain a friendship are an indication that the bond is genuine. Many people are gifted with an abundance of acquaintances, but true friendships are the soul to soul connections that make this life worth living. Cherish them, celebrate them, and never take them for granted.