As a follower of Jesus Christ I believe we can make adjustments in our life which will give us a richer experience living out each day. Even if you are not a follower of Christ there are shifts that can be made to improve your life experience. These shifts are intentional internal adjustments in mind and spirit, though small, each can make a big difference in how we do life. This is all about "shifting towards the richer side of life". Who of us would not want to live a more richer, fuller life. It is possible. I invite you to travel with me on my journey to the "richer side of life". Blessings, Richard Armstrong
Conversations People Relish – Path 4 Seven Paths Towards Richer Conversations.
Have you ever been in a conversation that really is going nowhere? You’re standing right next to each other but definitely not on the same page. Like two silos side by side, filled but separate. You want to talk to each other but keep banging into walls, just not connecting. We have all been there, trying to cut through the differences but nothing seems to help. How do we get out of our separate silos and make progress in our discussion?
This brings me to my fourth path in having conversations people relish: Path 4 – Find Common Ground
An interesting scripture follows the account of Jesus naming His 12 Disciples when they were up on a mountain. “…He came down with them [the 12 Disciples], and stood on a level place with the crowd of His disciples and a great multitude of people…” Luke 6:17. (my underline).
The idea of “coming down to a level place” intrigues me. That is where Jesus met people, on their level.
Common ground is discovering what the other person has interest in and begin the conversation with that point in mind. This same principle applies in teaching. A really good teacher begins the lesson with something the student already knows and then continues the lesson into what the student needs to know. It is getting a connection with the person at the beginning of the conversation. One must come down and make the connection on a “level place”.
Henry Ford said: “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” To that I would add, find common ground. We are to come down from our silo and begin with a common interest which will lead into a conversation that people relish.
Conversations People Relish-Path3 Seven Paths Towards Richer Conversations
We talk to people a lot, then walk away and forget who we just had a conversation with minutes before! This probably never happens to you. But it has happened to me. I always heard that there is no sweeter sound then the sound of your own name. Think about it for a moment, don’t all of us like to hear someone say our name? Most of us really enjoy talking and getting to know people. People are important to us and we want to remember them. Which leads me to my third path in having conversations people relish.
Path 3-Attaching meaning to the person’s name in the conversation.
The quote below is very insightful, especially the last line.
“A gossip is one who talks to you about others; a bore is one who talks to you about himself; and a brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.” – Lisa Kirk
“A brilliant conversationalist is one who talks to you about yourself.” WOW! This is a great path to follow. Whatever the conversation is about make it about them and not ourself. One way to do that is to use their name at different times during your talk. After all, we want the person to know that we are interested in them and not just what they are saying.
We use names all the time. Store names, sport’s team names, national leader’s names and the people that live next door. In the Bible we read: “…for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”(Acts 4:12),(my underline). Names are important. We know our family members by their names. When we hear a name, we instantly place meaning to it. Whether its a ball team, a store or a person. So in addition to remembering the person’s name when we speak to them, let our conversation be focused more on them than on ourself. Associating a person’s name with what they mean to us will help us in remembering their name.
The power of “name association” was taught unknowingly to me when I was a child in a Sunday School class. In the Bible’s book of Daniel chapter 3, we read of three young Hebrew men. Names are; Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. The teacher taught us to remember their names as:
Shad-rack, Me-shack and To-Bed-We-Go. I’ve never forgotten their names and the meaning of what these young men stood for. That is the power of associating names with meaning to etch their names in our memory.
Repeating names and remembering what the person means to us leads to conversations people relish.
Conversations People Relish – Path 2 Towards Richer Conversations
Have you ever attended a conference on, “Listening”? Public speaking, yes, listening , probably not. Over the years in public ministry I have attended dozens of conferences on public speaking, on personal growth, on delegation and on many other subjects to get a handle on what was needed to succeed in ministry. On, “listening”, I had to do my own digging. The numerous tapes, (tapes; remember them), and papers on the subject now reside in my home archives. Tapes by Denis Waitley and Ron Meiss were some of my favorites. The art of “listening” requires first that we; listen!
Listening can be hard work but there are ways that we can actually do this better. My second path on having richer conversations is:
Staying engaged by repeating key points.
Staying engaged with the one who is speaking will warm a friendship. At different times during the conversation it is important to repeat back a key point the person made. This assures the one speaking that you are actually listening to them. This engenders a real good feeling when they hear their statements repeated back to them. A smile may cross there face. Additionally it creates, in us, a memory mental hook of what is being discussed. Its almost like putting the car in drive and now the conversation flows easily down a two lane street.
Here are two great sentences that show real interest to the one speaking.
>”That’s a great point, can you expand on that?”
>”Help me to better understand what you are saying”.
Then comes the hard part. We want to help them answer our question! Pause; take a breath and wait. This is difficult for me because I want to help people form their responses. Solomon writes in Proverbs 18:21 that; “death and life are in the power of the tongue…”. I can give life to this conversation I’m having or I can kill it. I must pause and wait. Patience at this point will reward me with a much better understanding of what the person is saying.
“I’ve never been hurt by anything I didn’t say.” Calvin Coolidge
I have had a lot of conversations over the years, some good, some not so good. Still on the learning curve as to better my communication skills. On a recent Sunday afternoon I gave some thought to bettering my skills. I came up with seven pathsthat will help me do better when in dialog with others. Don’t be too hard on me, I’m working on improving. I’ll share with you the “paths” I came up with. These are all improvements that I or you can make without the help of others. Just put them into practice and experience the “shift towards the richer side of life”. Lets grow in this dimension together.
Paths Towards Richer Conversations. Conversations People Relish – Path 1
Number one on my list is self-evident.
1. Listen more, talk less. “Any problem, big or small, within a family, always seems to start with bad communication. Someone isn’t listening.” Emma Thompson
By self-evident I suggest we take a look in the mirror; One mouth-Two ears! In scripture we are advised to be; “...swift to hear, slow to speak...” (James 1:19)
One good point to remember is this. The purpose of communication is to understand what is being said. That goes for the non-verbals as well as the spoken words. When I understand what you are saying and you understand that I understand you, then we have good communication. I want to get better at this, how about you?
Of course graciousness is always appreciated. This will greatly improve the conversations we have with others.
Let me know what you are doing to improve your communication skills. Look for my next post in this series on “Conversations People Relish”