Meaningful conversation is a flow of thoughts verbally expressed between two or more people. The easier the flow between the participants, the more enjoyable the conversation will be. The important role of conversation in marriage and family (and that includes the church family!) should never be underestimated; people are drawn to each other in enjoyable conversation. It creates a warm atmosphere where people open up and share from their hearts.
As I mentioned in Part 1, meaningful conversation is an art that can be mastered by everyone that is interested to be a blessing to others. Think of the many ways a person’s life can be influenced positively by simply talking to them.
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)
The words that flow from our mouths have tremendous power over others. It can change their mood in many ways, generate favor toward you, or cause them to clam up. The way you address a person often affects the way they will treat you. Just like everything else, conversation has some principles that make it work well. Principles can be learned, and that is good news even for the most reserved person.
Very basic to a good conversation is to understand that it is not a monologue. For a conversation to be successful, there must be a casual flow to it – and that flow can be controlled by not talking for too long. Allow the other person the time to digest your thoughts, and then respond. If your sentences are too long it will be difficult to respond to all you have said. If you dominate the conversation, the person that you are talking to might just decide that it is not worth paying attention to everything, causing him/her to lose interest. Commas and periods are not just for writing – they are useful tools in the art of conversation as well.
The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook. (Proverbs 18:4)
As you allow the other person some space to think about how to respond to what you said, consider also a comfortable physical space between you. If you come too close physically, the person might just pay more attention to reclaiming his space instead of listening to you. Don’t come too close for comfort! On the other hand, if you are too far to be heard well, listening to you may be too much of an effort to get a good conversation going.
To create that easy flow, especially in the beginning of a conversation, be careful not to come over too strong with your opinions. If there is even the slightest negative perception the conversation will fail to launch and therefore not accomplish its purpose. Think ahead! When you have a point you want to make, allow it to build up over the length of the conversation, all the while measuring the other person’s response to your general point of view. Remember, a dominating personality is not necessarily a confident personality. Your ability to effectively communicate your point of view will determine your success as a communicator. The more unpleasant the subject matter, the more diplomatic one must be!
Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)
A non-negotiable attitude is a conversation killer, and worse – it might even be interpreted as an insult. When this becomes a pattern in the way you interact with others, very little response should be expected, including a chill in the atmosphere. This does not help to build a relationship! There is a way to communicate between the lines without openly contradicting another person. To successfully plant a suggestion takes maturity and skill.
While silence has the potential to stifle a conversation, it can also contribute to a relaxed atmosphere as it allows time to formulate a response. Sometimes we need that extra time to frame a thought with the right words.
Enjoyable conversation opens the way to a person’s heart!