Conversations are a fundamental and basic human activity, it is a great way to know, share, evaluate and learn about people, place, problem, and things. It is an extension of our personality as it permeates our daily life and undertakings. I personally see conversations as the best thing to happen to mankind, in fact, it is the genesis of man; a precedent to his creation. It is alarming how so many people take such a vital part of our existence lightly that they offend and err in it. The following rules are my personal rules for communication from my years of daily conversations with people from different backgrounds and walk of life, both privately and publicly.
Talk to people in the language they understand and you’ll have an audience. This is actually the frontier of every form of conversation because it sets the table for whether people will listen to what you have to say or not. Talking to a Rastafarian in a professional British accent is a No because people naturally identify with and listen to those who speak their language. Imagine travelling to a foreign land and you hear someone speak your native language, you’ll no doubt automatically recognize with the person and treat them as your kind because they speak your language. Little wonder there’s a register for every profession.
Talk less about yourself. When you use the word ‘I’ too much in your conversation, you come out as selfish and proud and you already lost your audience. I say this out of personal experience. I have a colleague who dilutes most of his conversation with stories about himself, including the ones he has told a hundred times — It’s a put off I must confess.
Don’t go overboard with praising yourself in your conversation.
Although I’m of the school of thought that “Your trumpet will rust if you wait for someone else to blow it and not yourself,” and I encourage people to blow their trumpets as much as they can when they can, there’s a thin line between self-appraisal and pride or arrogance. As much as possible, talk less about yourself in a conversation, but show genuine interest in the story of the other person. You know about yourself already, learn of the other person. I’ll advise that you only talk about yourself in instances where it is direly needed.
State the problem not the obvious. A case study is Union bank’s reply to Sterling’s shade in the recent #Bankwars, they stated the problem in the ad idea not the obvious. They said “Heading to the moon without a spacesuit? Journey mercies” not “Heading to the moon in shirts and trousers? Journey mercies” which is the obvious. This is one problem I’ve noticed with public speakers and pastors in their conversation with their audience, they state the obvious and leave the problem in oblivion. This is applicable in our daily conversations likewise.
Don’t try to complete the other person’s statement. It sounds awkward. This particular habit is a subtle conversation killer. I find it rude most times talking to someone who tries to complete my sentences for me. Leave my sentence alone! Is it your sentence?
Try as much as possible to maintain eye contact. Failure to maintain eye contact when talking to someone means you’re either shying away or not involved in the conversation. Yorubas will say ‘Oju loro wa’ which is translated as ‘The conversation is in the eye.’ Maintaining eye contact gives the person you’re speaking with the impression of paid attention and sincere concern to what they are saying.
Know the place of sarcasm. Sarcasm is a unique language understood by only a few people, it may work well in conversations with close friends and colleagues. When used appropriately in conversations, sarcasm can add spice and lighten the atmosphere as it leads to laughter most times. However, I’ll advise, for your safety and sanity not to use sarcasm in a conversation with a stranger, your boss, your parent, and someone that’s easily angered. To be forewarned is to be forearmed dear.
Know when to stop. This can never be overemphasized. Some people are very ignorant of other people’s body language, especially when they are tired of a conversation, they keep talking till eternity and that is very irritating. Many are too polite to verbalize their discomfort with your excessiveness but inwardly feel disgusted at your ignorance. Case studies are pastors and public speakers that promise to stop at a particular time but use over time. According to my research from interviewing people on what and how they feel about speakers using overtime, people actually stop listening to all you’re saying once you’re out of time then see you as an overdo. My friend will say “learn to know when it af do!”
Listen! There’s a reason why this was left for last. If there’s one thing I’ll like you to take home from all of these, it is the simple commandment, ‘Listen!’ The world is filled with people that want to be heard but no one is willing to listen, everyone wants to have a say. Listening is the secret of the ancient sages, a very vital component in Yoga and many ancient arts. The truth remains that if you listen to the other person and not try to interrupt or win an argument, you’ll learn more about the person, problem, or topic of conversation from what the person is saying.
Remember, the best of life is conversation, so it ought to be given much thought and attention to make it an interesting chore.
I’ll love to know what you think of these rules in the comments section. You can also share the rules that have worked for you too, I’ll be delighted to learn them
To your success!