The interesting thing about conversations is that when it’s going well, you tend to take a good conversation for granted. When your interests or goals are aligned, things seem to move well. When what you are saying seems to be acceptable and makes sense to the person listening, everything appears almost… effortless.
But we have all been involved in those conversations where no matter what you do or what you say, it seems to have gone wrong from the start. Perhaps, your listener got the wrong end of the stick and the assumptions she makes about what it is that you are trying to get across, are based on what she has perceived about your stand. The truth is this : there are so many points at which conversations can go so terribly wrong that a good conversation nowadays – a conversation where what you say comes across well, and is received with the intent in which it’s delivered – is really hard to have.
A good tip for great conversations : start with nothing. It’s hard to start with nothing simply because we don’t come to the conversation with nothing. We all bring something to the conversation – sometimes, intentionally and sometimes, unintentionally. Starting with nothing simply means we try to have a good conversation by assuming nothing. Or if we must assume, we lay these assumptions out on the table. That way, we ensure that we start on the right footing.
Starting with nothing also means that we listen more and say less.
So much of what we do and say is the way it is simply because we are caught up in our own lives – our experiences, our thoughts, our emotions. Quite rightly so but the truly effective communicator is one who can step inside the shoes of his listener, if only for a moment in time.
How many problems would you have resolved better if you got into your listener’s shoes?
How many arguments that you somehow helped escalate could have been avoided had you taken the time to stop and reflect?
Thinking this is easy, the doing is the hard part. But it starts with a willingness to see things other than the way we are used to and it involves a desire to consider the other person’s perspective.
Start with nothing : there’s nothing to lose if you do that.