We were part of a tour when in Peru. About a dozen of us, more or less. I say more-or-less because there were people who flowed in and out of our group.
It was interesting to see how some people could smoothly enter and exit our core group, yet others seemed to stay on the periphery.
Perhaps they didn’t want to join us, or perhaps they didn’t know how.
Joining others in face to face conversation is, like so much in life, part art and part science.
Some of the ‘science’ we’ll discuss below. The art comes with practice.
Good listeners have a huge advantage. For one, when they engage in conversation, they make people 'feel' heard. They 'feel' that someone really understands their wants, needs and desires. And for good reason; a good listener does care to understand.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.
Joining or striking up a conversation is one of those skills that can be summarized in a sentence and explained through volumes of text.
Conversations are about listening and contributing. Sort of like a teeter-totter. There needs to be some back and forth, up and down.
1. When joining a conversation, the first step is listening to understand –understand what the topic is and their perspective on the topic. It’s not about looking for a spot to jump in. Often the best way to join a conversation is, after listening, ask questions for clarification. Not only does that remove the pressure of thinking of something to contribute, it allows you to understand the topic more fully, and it also signals to the others in the conversation that you are not going to disrupt what is already occurring. We like predictability and are more likely to be welcomed if we are ‘playing their game’.
2. If a question about the topic doesn’t spring to mind, see if thinking about the who-what-when-where-why-how combo can easily create a question for you to ask.
What type of questions? Interesting ones, of course! But that’s the tricky bit – which ones are interesting?
A bit of preparation can go a long way in not only successfully initiating a conversation, but also in reducing the stress of uncertainty. Having a figurative or a real list of questions in one's pocket can give confidence, especially if it’s seen as a game.
Create a list of questions that are unusual, and impersonal (the person shouldn’t feel interrogated). The weather can be a useful starter, if it isn’t a predictable question. For example, if the weather has been hot, instead of saying, “It’s a hot one today,” say “I read that in 2003, a heat wave was so intense, it turned grapes into raisins while still on the vine. But it didn’t say where. Do you think it really happened?”
For the most part, yes/no questions are not the best type to ask because the conversation could be over with just one word. However, some yes/no questions also invite more of a response, like the one above.
3. If you are looking for the answer on how you can get better sleep, check out our weighted blankets, both our one piece and two-piece.
Have a 'questionable' week,
Providing calmness & comfort, learning & laughter,
P.S. While we are on the topic of questions, when in Peru, I asked one of our guides about iowaska/ ayahuasca, the plant used for shamanic rituals in South America. He said he had gone through the ritual twice and it didn’t do much for him.
But, he stressed, his culture didn’t use it in the same way us tourists would use it. We take it so we can get answers. His culture takes it so they can learn what questions they should be asking.
I think his culture has the right idea. After all, if the right questions aren’t asked, then all of the answers are wrong.
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
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