What do you think of when you think of having a conversation? Do you think about the small conversations we have daily with our family or the people we come into incidental contact with at the grocery stores, work, or at a child’s school function? Or do you think of the “real” conversations you have with your close friends or your spouse or partner? Conversing with others encompasses a range of interactions, from the oft-dreaded small talk you feel compelled to make at parties with people you don’t know to the deepest and most intimate sharing of vulnerability with a trusted companion.
Most people think of small talk—those casual conversations we have in bits and pieces with others as we move through the day—as either brief, pleasant, social interludes or the grudging necessity of getting through life on a day-to-day basis. But even small conversations can have value. The content of these conversations matters less than that which is communicated between the lines through tone of voice, non-verbal cues, and attitude. Allison Graham, a networking expert, and author puts it this way: “Your words may be forgotten, but how you make people feel will be remembered.”
The art of conversation certainly extends to deeper and more purposeful engagements with others. Our Wise Women group, for example, was created to provide a context and a considered set of conditions to facilitate personal sharing, emotional support, and inspiration, some of the best benefits of authentic conversation. Feeling safe psychologically and emotionally is key to inviting more in-depth engagement and interaction. Whether we are introverts or extroverts, we all have something of value to share. Our group strives to create an optimal context for allowing both the shy and the outgoing to share what is on their minds and in their hearts without pressure to perform or feeling judged.
Let’s talk about our ideas and feelings about relating to others through conversation and what we hope to experience when we engage in the many levels of conversation we can choose to have with others.
- How do you feel about the brief and casual conversations you have with people on a day-to-day basis or the small conversations you may have at a party or other event?
- How do you see yourself as a conversationalist? Is this an arena of comfort or discomfort?
- What types of conversations or topics are most interesting to you? Conversations may focus on shared interests, similar life circumstances, life philosophies or deeper personal sharing.
- Do you currently have the level of conversational engagement with others that you want to have in your relationships? Share one of your most satisfying conversational experiences with the group. Share one of your conversational longings.