10 rules we should follow to have a better conversation

Being able to do a better conversation is one of the best life skills a person can develop.  Effective conversation is much more than being able to talk; it is also the ability to listen and understand others and to know the best ways to get our points across. Following are some rules we can follow to have a better conversation.


  1. Avoid multitasking.

Whenever you are in a conversation, be in that moment. Don’t think about the incident happened in your office yesterday or where you are going to spend tomorrow’s evening. If you want to get out of the conversation, get out of the conversation, but don’t be half in it and half out of it.


  1. Don’t pontificate.

If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, be a blogger. You need to enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn from the other participants. Everybody is an expert in something.



  1. Use open ended questions.

Start your questions with who, what, when, where, why or how. If you put in a complicated question, you are going to get a simple answer out. If the question is like, "Were you terrified?" or "Were you angry?" the answer will be like “Yes” or “No”. Let them to describe it. They are the ones that know. Ask questions like "How did that feel?" Because then they might have to stop for a moment and think about it, and you are going to get a much more interesting response.


  1. Go with the flow.

That means thoughts will come into your mind and need to let them go out of your mind. We have heard interviews often in which a guest is talking for several minutes and then the host comes back in and asks a question which seems like it comes out of nowhere, or it's already been answered. That means the host probably stopped listening two minutes ago because he thought of this really clever question, and he was just bound and determined to say that. And we do the same thing. We are sitting there having a conversation with someone, and then we remember something very interesting happened to us few days back. And we stop listening. Stories and ideas are going to come to you. You need to let them come and let them go.


  1. If you don't know about something than accept it and say honestly that you don't know.

Whenever people claim to be an expert they should be very careful. If you claim to be an expert in something you have to be pretty sure about that. Do that. Err on the side of caution. Talk should not be cheap.


  1. Don't equate your experience with others.

If someone is talking about having lost a family member, don't start talking about the time you lost a family member. If someone is telling about the problems he or she is facing in personal life, don't tell him or her about how much frustrated you are for the same reasons. It is not the same. It is never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it is not about you. You don't need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you have suffered. Somebody asked Stephen hawking once what his IQ was, and he said, "I have no idea. People who brag about their IQs are losers." Conversations are not a promotional opportunity.


  1. Try not to repeat yourself.

It is condescending and it is really boring, and we tend to do it a lot. Especially in work conversations or in conversations with our kids, we have a point to make, so we just keep rewording it over and over. Don't do that.


  1. Stay out of the weeds.

Frankly, don't get bogged down in the details. People literally have no interest in knowing the years, the names, the dates, all those details that you are struggling to come up with in your mind. They simply don't care. What they care about is you. They care about what you are like, what you have in common. So forget the details. Leave them out.


  1. Listen

This is the most important one. Listening is one of the most important skill that you could develop. Buddha said, and I am paraphrasing, "If your mouth is open, you are not learning." Joseph McCormack, author of BRIEF: Making a Bigger Impact by Saying Less says the human brain has the capacity to absorb 750 words a minute, but the average person can only speak about 150 words a minute, meaning there’s an extra 600 words that can float around in the receiver’s brain. And look, I know it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can't do that, you are not in a conversation. You are just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place. You have to listen to one another.


  1. Be brief.

Try to keep your mouth shut as often as you possibly can and keep your mind open, and believe me you will be never disappointed. Despite the many drawbacks of being long-winded, many of us struggle to be brief. One reason is because we believe by over-explaining, we can prove how smart we are. Try to be brief always. Don’t over talk a point. It may cause the other person to lose interest in the conversation.


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