Turn your conversations ON!

Conversations bridge, fluster, open and close people. Whereas they are only the tip of the iceberg, a good conversation can pave the way for meaningful communication and relationships. Often our words – tone, vocabulary, syntax and frequency – give messages and elicit reactions that both sender and receiver are unaware of. How do we then weigh both the said and unsaid? Here are three simple and quick tips to turn your conversations from oh-no to oh-yes in a sentence.

Of claims & disclaim: Whether it is a heated argument, a resigned state and a cool conversation, we tend to casually throw in large statements masked as facts. E.g. everyone is coming late to work these days; there are no chances of winning this bid; nobody loves me; millennial don’t respect our values. These claims could be for the sake of an illusory ‘weight’ in our conversation or unaware habit. The truth is, their inaccuracy actually subtracts weight from the conversation, categorising us as choro, ignorant, opinionated and phainku. Claims are a good way to add substance -when the claim is a researched, proven fact.

So what happens to those opinions we had to give? How do we still talk about the probability, feelings and laments? Own the opinion. A simple way to give opinions is by stating they are so; adding a disclaimer. E.g. In my opinion, the chances of winning this bid are low; I cannot talk for everyone but I have experienced millennial to not respect value. The minute we add ‘I’ and think/feel, we take responsibility about the sentence like an adult and do not make sweeping, unsubstituted statements.

Turn outwards: While I urge you to use more I statements, it is also important to not dominate the entire conversation with me, myself and I. If in a dialogue, you end up speaking for the most part about you, your feelings and your opinion, something is wrong. Make a conscious choice to put in more ‘you’ questions and then listen to those answers. ‘How do you feel?’ ‘What was that like for you?’ ‘When did you find that out?’. A balanced conversation is respectful and empowers you with the most important communication tool – empathy.

Should to would: Another obnoxious yet common menace of conversations is the ‘should’ factor. ‘You should have thought of this’ ‘You should call me back’ ‘You should be more careful’. Like the claims, these stem from authority, anger, love, excitement and other emotions. What it can mean: I am the boss of you, you better listen to me, I am a dictator and worse. ‘Should’ can put the listener in a defensive state making the rest of the sentence meaningless. Instead, once again own the statement with ‘I would’ ‘Could you’. E.g ‘I would like you to come in earlier please’ or ‘Could you call me back?’.

Baseless, fervent claims and opinions show a selfish conversation. Through these tips, the essence is to build respect, consideration and empathy. It is to shift the focus to the other, showing a win-win attitude, maturity and an open mind. These 3-sum pointers turn on both external and internal conversations with others and our self, resulting in healthier and constructive communication and relationships.

By Urooj Mazhar