Civility and manners,  Communication,  Interpersonal skills

Can we talk?

“I once worked with someone who would only listen for about 15 seconds before interrupting — and then it was only to say something about himself….No matter how long we actually spoke, he just linked whatever you said back to himself and what he wanted to talk about. This effectively ended the conversation.” ~Jack Thomas, Good Conversations

Lately I’ve been fascinated by the topic of meaningful conversation and how it can enrich our relationships. With that in mind, I’ve been tracking down articles and books that explore the reasons why we’re losing the art of good conversation and what we can do about it. According to several behavioral scientists, we’ve become so adept at chatting online (texting, emailing, etc.) that we’re actually losing our in-person communication skills.

The problem isn’t that we’ve simply forgotten how to talk to each other. We’re not fully listening to each other. Good conversation isn’t a one-way street, after all. Good conversation makes everyone feel heard and validated.

How many times have you noticed people steering the conversation back to themselves instead of engaging with your topic? How often have you found yourself wishing you could escape from a conversation in which someone rambled nonstop about their own interests or problems — and never once asked about yours? Yes, I’ve caught myself doing the same thing on more than one occasion, and I never want to make a habit of it.

In my research last week, several books kept appearing on the “Top 10” reading lists of respected communication experts in the fields of business and interpersonal relationships. Among them: How to Know a Person by David Brooks and Dale Carnegie’s top-selling classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. I’ll share several other recommendations from these reading lists as soon as I finish the books. ~CL

Throughout my career, I've worked as a book production editor, travel magazine editor, features writer, and weekly newspaper columnist. My award-winning lifestyles features and essays have appeared in many national magazines and anthologies, including Newsweek, Reader's Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Writer's Digest, Victoria, Better Homes & Gardens, Bella Grace, and more. My weekly Sunday "Life Lines" column ran for 14 years in The Daily Tribune (Royal Oak, MI) and won a First Place (Local Columns) award from the Michigan Press Association. My essay collection, Writing Home, includes 93 previously published columns and essays focusing on parenthood and family life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.