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8 Tips for Having Productive Conversation

8 Tips for Having Productive Conversation

Let’s face it. Not many of us were born as talkative, outgoing, extroverted individuals. We all have room for improvement, and what better area to improve in than conversation skills? In every area of life, whether it be socially, professionally, or even romantically, productive conversation skills are beneficial. Try adding these nine tips to your daily conversations and see what an impact it makes.

1. Pay attention to the other person

Active listening is one of the most important components of good conversation. If the person speaking can see that your attention is elsewhere, they will quickly lose interest in sharing what they have to say and in listening to what you have to share. So turn off the TV, quit glancing at your phone every five seconds, and give that person your undivided attention. You’ll find the favor returned when it’s your turn to speak!

2. Let people sell themselves

It’s simple. We as humans love to talk about ourselves or things that are happening to us. Productive conversations involve people sharing about themselves, stories of their past or present, and their dreams of what the future may hold.

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People are literally waiting to stalk about their latest hobby, their new car, or the funny thing that their toddler said at the dinner table. Let people tell their story! You will get to know them and connect more easily.

3. Summarize others’ viewpoints

One way you can show that you are indeed paying attention is to summarize what the other party has just said. Although people love to talk, going without responses that indicate that you are understanding and following along will cause them to feel like you have zoned out.

A quick recap of what has just been said, especially if the other person has been talking for a while, helps the conversation move along smoothly.

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4. Don’t interrupt

It’s simple. Don’t be rude. Unless an urgent issue arises in the conversation, don’t interrupt. Give the other person the space to communicate.

5. Make eye contact

A key part of active listening in a conversation is making eye contact. Now, I’m not suggesting you stare intently at the speaker’s eyes without blinking. That’s a staring contest, not a conversation. You can even look somewhere close, that may not be their eyes like their forehead or nose. But an attempt at eye contact lets the speaker know that you are present and listening.

6. Ask open questions

Ask questions that bring out more than just a yes or no, or one word in response. Open questions like “Why did you decide to study biology?” allow a person to open up and share more about themselves than simple one word answers, which can halt the flow of a conversation.

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7. Smile

It’s interesting that most of the tips in this list about conversation have nothing to do with you talking. But your body actions definitely are important. So smile! Your body language is crucial to creating a warm and welcoming environment for the other person to share.

Even when talking on the phone, smiling and other signals of body language can have a tangible effect on your tone, and therefore the conversation as a whole.

8. Find things in common

It is much easier to talk to someone when you know that they have an interest in what you are talking about. This way, you don’t feel like you’re boring them or forcing them to listen to a lecture. Conversation comes easier, and people connect more quickly when there are commonalities.

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How can you find out what you have in common? Try some of the previously mentioned tips. Ask questions, listen to their story, take notice of the things around them and maybe you can spark up a connection on high school over the class rings you both are wearing.

Have any other interesting or helpful conversation tips? Share them below

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CJ Goulding

CJ Goulding is the Lead Organizer at Natural Leaders Network, building leaders and connections in and between humans.

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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