Could it be that social media has contributed to conversation narcissism? Have we become so programmed to voice our opinions, uninterrupted, without questions or pausing and without face-to-face contact, that we forget the art of conversation? Or, is it some people are just not naturally good listeners? Are some people just “talkers”?
We all have had this experience and probably can even recall someone that pretty much monopolizes the entire conversation every time you meet. We find ourselves scratching our head as they hijack the conversation, and we listen, and listen and listen some more. But, maybe, just maybe, a little gentle conversation etiquette is all that is needed to help all of us along the path to listening more and talking less.
So, at the risk of monopolizing this conversation, here are our tips, but please feel free to join the conversation on our Facebook page, Etiquette Chics, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love your emails, insight and hearing from you!
No. 1: Assess your talking/listening style. How can you do this? After having lunch or coffee with a friend, honestly examine the topics you discussed. Make a quick column format on your phone or paper and list all you learned about your friends’ life. Then, list all the things you covered. And, be honest with yourself. If you only found out one or two things about your friend’s life and your own topics ranged from career, to kids, to parents, (aunts, uncles, third cousins removed, six minor medical conditions and beyond) you may have monopolized the conversation. (This obviously excludes those situations where a friend is journeying through a difficult path such as divorce, serious illness etc. They certainly need our loving, listening ear often and regularly.)
No. 2: Listen. We mean really listen. We touched on this in our last column on friendship etiquette, but be someone who listens, not thinking of other topics or responses while your friend, family member or co-worker are speaking. Hear what they are saying, take it in and respond accordingly to their topic. Try to avoid jumping in with a completely different topic that you want to discuss. I think we can all benefit from this gentle reminder.
No. 3: Do not interrupt/take your turn. This is so simple to do in theory, but how frequently this common courtesy is broken. Simply wait until the other person is done speaking. Not a pause while they are speaking, because that is natural, but when they are actually finished. Also, realize that brief interruptions that confirm a point are OK. Now, if you are someone who is a “talker,” then this could be difficult and will take some self-awareness. Here is a hint, look for social cues from other people. If you have talked for a few minutes without questions or comments from others, you may be monopolizing the conversation.
No. 4: Pause. Sometimes when talking becomes excessive those internal filters break down. I am sure most of us can relate to those moments where we reflect back on a conversation and wish we had kept from speaking. We ask ourselves, “Why did I say that?” The simple fact is, the more we talk, the better the chances we may say something we regret. So, we should pause, run our thoughts through a quick internal filter and then proceed cautiously. Remember the wise old Indian saying and ask yourself, “Is it kind, is it necessary, is true, does it improve upon the silence?” Then, proceed from there with conversation caution.
No. 5: Avoid sharing too much information (too many personal details). Unless it is family or your very closest friend(s), avoid details about your relationship struggles, finances (good or bad,) your love life and your health. Specific and detailed experiences should be saved for those in your very inner circle.
No. 6: Your opinion is not the only opinion. Realize that, contrary to popular belief, we can actually disagree and still have a cordial conversation, no matter how passionate we are about the subject. And, we should also realize a conversation is not just about you voicing your own opinion, but listening to others opinions in a courteous manner. If you are stepping out with your opinions, allow your fellow conversationalist a turn, whether they agree or disagree.
Hopefully, this encourages all of us to be better communicators and, in to the end, overthrow the “talking tyranny” once and for all.
You can find more etiquette, techiquette tips and view our videos on our Facebook page and Youtube channel, Etiquette Chics. Feel free to email us at email@example.com.