A SUCCESSFUL CONVERSATIONIST'S MOTTO:
"BEING CONSIDERATE OF YOUR CONVERSATION PARTNER
IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE"
"BEING CONSIDERATE OF YOUR CONVERSATION PARTNER
IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE"
The title of today's topic might provoke some strange feelings in some of you. In fact, some of you might be asking yourselves something like: (a) Is this another sermon being preached to us about how we should act and behave? (b) Why should I be concerned about being considerate of someone during a conversation if they aren't the same with me? (c) Why is this topic of any interest for those people who are just talking with one another casually? Or maybe, you have another question in your mind. These are all doubts that might be triggered in one's mind because the word "considerate" conjures up images about being overly polite to someone, showing them too much respect, or appearing to be artificial and insincere with them.
However, as you will soon find out, this is actually a very serious topic to reflect on. Before you have your next conversation with someone, think about the advice that is given here. Showing your conversation partner consideration is much more than simply being nice or polite to them. Let's explore what's involved in being mindful of the person with whom you are speaking, and how it will have a positive effect on your future conversations with others. If you want to be a successful conversationist, then it is important to (1) recognize who your conversation partner is, (2) determine ahead of time what the purpose of your conversation is with someone else, (3) know what to say and how to say it, and (4) learn how to control your own emotions and behavior during a conversation.
First off, it is essential to stop and think about who you are going to talk with. Take some quiet time alone in order to give this some serious thought. Have in mind whether or not you know the person, and how much they know about you. If your conversation partner is a friend, then you are obviously not going to talk with them the same way that you would if they were a person that you are meeting for the first time. The treatment that you give them and the language that you use are totally different with each one of these two persons. Life has many very valuable lessons to learn from, and one of them is to remember that you never know who you are talking to. In other words, your conversation partner might be connected in some way to someone else that you already know; for example, a neighbor, a friend of a friend, another person who works with the same company as you do, an important future connection to be added to your network of contacts, or the spouse or other family member of someone that you know. Life connects us together with others in very strange ways, so it is better to be aware of this when you are talking to someone else.
Another valuable part of this personal reflection is to remember the importance of treating others with the same respect that you would like to be treated. This means even when the other person might be having a bad day, and is being a little abrupt with you. Also keep in mind that a person's outward appearance doesn't always indicate who that person really is. For example, be careful not to judge your conversation partner based on what they look like. Even though they are not dressed the way you might imagine a professional to look like, that doesn't mean that they are not, in fact, a professional. This person just might have influence on some aspect of your future business life someday. If you are not careful, you might miss out on some important opportunities.
Another good example of a person's outward appearance, is when you walk into a company's lobby where you are looking for a job. If you ask someone where the restroom is, you have no idea who that person is. It might be your future secretary, co-worker, boss, or other potential contact in that company. Therefore, take the time to consider who your conversation partner is, even if the conversation is only about asking where the bathroom is. Not every male boss wears a tie, every secretary is not necessarily a woman, and not every good-looking person is someone that you can automatically trust.
In the second place, assess ahead of time what the purpose of your conversation with someone else is all about. This requires some thought as well. Many reasons exist why you might have a conversation with someone. Examples include the following. Maybe you need to obtain information from a co-worker so you can arrange to meet with them. Perhaps you are involved in a meeting with another person in order to share information together. Another situation could also be when you have information that someone else wants from you.
Other possible motives for having a conversation with someone else might also include any of the following: planning or organizing an event together; negotiating on something with someone else; showing someone appreciation for something that they did for you; getting together for a common cause; talking to someone you know; starting a conversation with someone new; having a job interview; participating in a conversation in order to obtain clarity on a personal matter or a business issue; working on a project with someone; learning something new from someone in a formal or informal setting; or maybe obtaining personal or professional feedback from someone before making an important decision. Many other possibilities also exist in order to identify why you might have a conversation with another person.
If you want to be a good conversationist, it is important to determine what the motive of your conversation is before you meet and talk with someone. It can mean the difference between success and failure in your communication with that person. A very easy example of this is going to a job interview and not being prepared. If you consider why you are going to have a meeting with someone else, then you will know what you need to say, and how you need to say it, in order to obtain your personal or professional objectives that you have in mind. This leads us to the next important part of being considerate of your conversation partner.
Third of all, if you want to become a successful talker who is mindful of whom you are talking with, then it is important to know "what to say" and "how to say it". Keep in mind all of the following factors. Set the tone of your talk by establishing whether or not it is formal, informal, or an everyday type conversation. This will help you to establish "what to say" and "how to say it".
When you have to decide "what to say", remember the difference between formal and informal vocabulary and wording; such as the words "someone" (formal) and "somebody" (informal). Look here for an extensive explanation about the difference between formal and informal communication.
Basically the differences between formal and informal communication are not only in the vocabulary, but also in the grammar and tone that are used during oral communication. Hence, it is important to know "how to say something" as well. In a formal conversation the tone of voice that is used can be described as distant, serious and more exact. On the other hand, the quality or character of the sound of the voice used in an informal conversation is friendly, relaxed and more personable. Look here for some precise examples of the differences in vocabulary, grammar and tone that are used in these two different types of conversations.
In the last place, and of the utmost importance for a successful conversation, learn how to control your emotions and behavior. If you want your future talks with other people to be more successful and fulfilling for both sides, then you will have to practice this approach. As mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, this part of being a successful conversationist might provoke some strange feelings in some of you. Be that as it may, let's go back and answer the three questions (a), (b) and (c) in the first paragraph so that you can see why this part is probably the most important in order to have success with your future conversations with others.
Related to question (a) above, obviously, this is not a sermon being preached about how one should act and behave. This is about self-reflection and self-analysis of one's own behavior and outwardly displayed emotions during a talk with someone else. Consider the following situation. Imagine that your conversation partner is talking with a relaxed tone of voice and tells you something that happened to them. If you don't pay attention to their facial expressions, body gestures, and tone of voice, you might interpret their words as being playful or comical, and begin to laugh out loud. However, if they are being serious, then your apparent behavior can be interpreted as being very insensitive. This would be disastrous for the communication between the two of you. Here in this example, you can see why it's important to learn to control your emotions and behavior.
Now let's turn our attention to question (b). If the person that you are talking to is not being considerate of you, then that doesn't mean that you should not be considerate of them. It is easy to let your emotions surface when this happens, but as was mentioned above, it's important to learn how to control your feelings if you want to be a successful conversationist. There are ways to deal with your conversation partner when they get difficult and seem to show you less respect. If communication is impossible with this person, then you can politely say something like, "I see that you are feeling disturbed about something, so maybe we should talk about something else, or talk later if you prefer". Even though your listener might not show you consideration, you can do the opposite and demonstrate to them that you "can" be considerate of them. Many times this will change the other person's behavior, and they will begin to relax. If you want further practice in order to deal with difficult people, look at this article titled "Ten Keys to Handling Unreasonable & Difficult People".
With regard to the last question (c) found in the first paragraph of this article, the importance of being mindful of your conversation partner is not exempt during casual talks that you have with others that you know very well (e.g., friends, family members, schoolmates, or other people familiar to you). In other words, it is important to show consideration to others in all types of conversations, not only formal and informal ones, but also casual conversations. What generally happens when you show respect and give your conversation partner consideration, is that they will do the same for you. Your behavior rubs off on them.
In the end, you are in control of the situation, and can obtain better results from your conversation with someone else if you learn to control your own emotions first. You are more likely to get what you want out of the conversation by doing this, even if the other person isn't showing you the same consideration that you are for them. After all, we are all human, and sometimes we have bad days. It is good to remember that since we all have different opinions and viewpoints about things, it makes it a lot easier to be mindful of the other person and try to understand their motivations for thinking and believing the way they do.
In summary, the importance of being considerate of the person that you are talking with is of the utmost interest to someone who wants to have a successful conversation with another person. Success stems from knowing who you are talking to, thinking beforehand about what you want to say, knowing how to say it, and learning how to control your own emotions and behavior. Remember, you never know who it is you are talking to when you are talking to that person for the first time.
Learn how to be a successful conversationist if you want to achieve success in your oral communication skills. When your conversation partner is being especially difficult, then model the behavior you want them to display. If this particular person is impossible to deal with now, then gently leave the conversation for another day in the future. Sometimes it will even be necessary to decide whether or not you want to continue your contact with this person. This is an extreme case, but it sometimes might happen.