In this fast-paced and ever-changing world we’re living in, one simple opinion or word can cause an immediate argument. I have been thinking about the reasons for this and I have realised that the simple fact is that we’re not listening to each other. A conversation makes it necessary to listen before answering and this is where many people fall short. We are so quick to respond and very eager to take words the wrong way that we often get offended unnecessarily.
It has been said that we are living in the age of artificial intelligence. In more ways than one, the vast effect of this change in technology has caused an unfortunate change in the way we interact with one another. People are more likely to write something out via text instead of speaking to someone face to face. It worries me that our future generation will not know the value meaningful interpersonal contact.
Thus, communication competence is something crucial to focus on in a world that is changing every second. We need to master the art of effective conversation, whether we like the person or not, and whether we agree with them or not. Effective communication could mean the growth of solid relationships and the start of successful business partnerships; while ineffective communication will cause division and separation. An effective conversation is one where you feel optimistic and inspired; whether the person is agreeing with you or not. It takes engagement from both parties in order to be effective and efficient in communication.
Here are five easy tools to have handy when wanting to engage in a meaningful conversation; whether it is with a friend, a companion or a colleague. Effective communication can build trust and break barriers. Communication transcends all senses. Forms of communication differ and it is important to take note of communication in all forms.
- Listen more than you speak.
Listening closely to what the other person has to say will increase clarity and allow the other person to feel heard and understood. You will discover that the answers you give are more appropriate and thus will lead to less misunderstanding and confusion.
- Never speak over the other person.
It is extremely important to let the other person finish what they have said before answering. An effective and constructive conversation is one where both parties are given equal power and opportunity to voice their opinions. I’ve heard many people argue and often what leads to the argument is where the one wants to overpower the other by speaking over them; this to me is a sign of insecurity. Let the person finish and answer accordingly when they are done.
- Think before you speak.
This is something many people have a challenge with. Your mouth should never work faster than your brain. Try to think about the content of what you are saying. Ask yourself how your words may affect the person on the receiving end.
- Make sure your conversational dialogue is appropriate for the person you are speaking to. The way you speak to your friend is probably not the same way you would speak to your boss. Know how to speak appropriately according to context. Having appropriate conversational dialogue is not only a sign of respect, but it is also a clear indication of maturity.
- Only take part in conversations that are necessary.
If you are at work and you hear your co-worker speaking badly about another colleague, that conversation is 9 out of 10 times completely unnecessary and will only be time consuming. There are so many other things to focus on in life; nothing fruitful and valuable ever came from gossip. Don’t waste your breath. You’ll need it for more important matters.
Conversational competence is not something you master overnight. It takes time and experience. But it is important to recognise the importance of this skill. The conversations you keep are part and parcel of someone’s first impression of you. My grandmother always told me that the first impression, is the last impression. Developing and mastering the skill of conversational competence can leave someone feeling inspired and uplifted; and I never doubt the value of making a lasting difference in the lives of those around me.
Kelly as a student at the University of Cape Town majoring in Gender Studies, Organisational Psychology and Psychology. Empowerment is defined as a measure given to an individuals and communities, aimed at increasing their autonomy and self-determination; enabling them to become stronger and allowing them to understand and exercise their rights with freedom and self-confidence. Kelly is particularly passionate about female empowerment. It is because of this that she has joined the Future Females movement. Women have a unique strength that is deeply embedded. It is her hope that through her writing she is able to help women across the globe discover and utilise this strength to the best of their ability.