My family and I just retuned from a 2 month road trip to visit family and friends in Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. It was a wonderful experience filled with great conversation and connection and at times not so good conversation and lack of connection.
As a life-long student of conversation I find it fascinating to observe why conversation works and why it sometimes doesn’t.
Good conversation is truly an art that comes from the heart and not the head.
It does NOT require advanced, sophisticated vocabulary or perfect grammar. In fact, studies have shown that the “smarter” someone thinks they are, the worse they are at good, connecting conversation.
There are foundational rules to good conversation but overall, it must be used in a fluid way that changes from one situation to the next.
How then is it possible to feel confident in conversation?
Today let’s talk about what I believe is the #1 rule for good conversation…
FOCUS ON OTHERS
Remember, it’s not about you.
Our brains are wired to think about ourselves.
What do they think about me?
Are they judging me by my accent?
I’m not as good at English as them.
I don’t belong here.
I can’t make any mistakes.
Your brain wants to protect you from what it perceives as danger. It’s constantly assessing the threats and working hard to keep you safe from feeling embarrassed or rejected.
Good conversation requires us to override our natural response of being self-focused to become a more evolved version that thinks first of others.
When you’re in a conversation, think about it as moving from selfie mode on your camera to portrait mode with the focus on the person you are speaking with.
Here are 4 tips to be more others focused in conversation.
1. Be present: be all in on the conversation or get out. Multitasking doesn’t lead to connection.
2. Be curious: every person you meet knows something you don’t.
3. Practice compassion: what is it like for them from their perspective?
4. Listen with your heart: practice no judgement and listen with love.
As you focus on your conversational partner you’ll find greater confidence.
You’ll be thinking less about making mistakes and what others are thinking of you and more about getting to know and understand the other person.
As you do, I promise you’ll make more friends, learn more, and experience greater confidence and connection in your conversations.
There is much more to learn about good conversation but take this one step. Make one small change at a time.
And over time you’ll look back and realize how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown in your confidence to have good, connecting conversations in English.
As always, we’re here for you and can help you in this journey.