Recently, I have endured several "one-sided conversations" so I decided it is time to bring awareness to this issue. One-sided conversations are not conversations at all. They do not develop intimacy or further the relationship. When one person is doing all the talking, you know what that is called? A monologue! So this week I'm going to share some tips on how to engage in meaningful conversation, which is, after all, the purpose of good communication and key to developing intimate relationships.
1. Be aware of how much you are talking.
If you must, set a timer on your phone. Be aware of hogging the conversation. No one likes to listen to someone go on and on about their problems or switch from one topic to the next. Take a breath and pause. Give the other party a chance to respond, or even change the subject. Communication is a two-way street.
2. Practice listening
Talking is easy for most of us, but listening is a skill that must be learned. James 1:18 exhorts us to be "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." I used to tell my kids, "That's why God gave us two ears and one mouth" so we listen more than we speak. We all want to get our two cents in, right? Rather than listening to what the other person is saying we are thinking about what we want to say next. Develop the patience to listen. It is a gift we give to the other person. Everyone likes to be heard.
3. Resist the Urge to Interrupt
I am guilty of this one. I get so enthralled with the conversation I can't wait to add to it, so I interrupt. I do it less now so I am making progress, but this is a BIG NO NO. Interrupting is rude in most cases, except at the office when you sometimes have to interrupt to be heard.
4. Be engaged.
This means pay attention. Don't be checking your phone, your email, or looking around. Look at the person who is speaking. Nod your head to show you are taking in what is being said. I used to get so exasperated having to repeat myself. People either don't want to listen, they don't know how to listen, or they don't even realize they aren't listening.
5. Lower Your Volume
Sometimes conversations can get difficult and tempers flare. When I notice the other person's voice going up, I immediately lower mine. This technique works with most people. If the person is still raising their voice, then I ask them to lower their voice. Lastly, if they still refuse to calm down, I politely exit from the conversation with something like "We can talk about this another time, perhaps when you're calmer."
I've employed these tips in my relationships and I know they work to promote deeper and more meaningful conversations. You can too, but what about our conversations with our heavenly Father?
Do you believe God speaks to us? Well, I am living-proof to tell you that He certainly does. God speaks to all of us in different ways. Some hear His still small voice in the quiet of nature, in the melody of a song or the beauty of a painting. Others hear Him through the words of others, scripture, prayer and meditation. God knows how to communicate to each of His children on a personal basis.
The all important questioning in every conversation is "Am I listening?" I've heard it said, that's why God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we listen twice as much as we talk. Pay attention to your next conversation. How much are you talking vs. listening? As they say, the proof is in the pudding, so if you want to get closer to others and to God, practice these simple tips and your relationships are sure to improve.
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Until next time, keep looking up!