Quite appropriately, this week November 22-28 is National Better Conversation Week, National Game and Puzzle Week, Family Week AND Thanksgiving!

Today we will explore ways to have better conversations. First, there are conversation starters and conversation stoppers.  Here are a few ideas on how to start/maintain a great conversation.

Note to self: this is NOT the way to honor Better Conversation Week.

Note to self: this is NOT the way to honor Better Conversation Week.

  1.  Listen more than you talk.  That requires asking thoughtful questions-listening to the response-asking follow up questions.  I’m amazed by the common threads of interest that can be discovered with thoughtful follow up questions.
  2. Spending time with family members you don’t see often?  Brush up on their interests, what they were doing the last time you visited with them and make sure to inquire about their family.
  3. Tailor your questions, comments to the listener-that old adage “no politics/sex/religion” still holds true for new acquaintances.  However, if you know Aunt Suzie has been working on the campaign for the mayor in her hometown, asking questions about the inner workings of a political campaign would validate her community service.
  4. Take turns.  Just like in kindergarten-it is important to take turns in conversation.  If you have been on a soap box for a bit, and notice that you are dizzy, it could be that you have just sucked all the oxygen from the room.  Turn to your right and say, “What do you think?”  Or just stop talking….
  5. Think before words come out of your mouth.  Before you rant about what is wrong with the world, take a breath and ask yourself, ” is this kind?  Will this stop or start a conversation? Is it more important to be right or respectful?”

A few don’t s:

Don’t “side-bar.” The literal definition of sidebar is an area near the judge’s bench (outside the hearing of the jury) for lawyers and the judge to speak.  In a group setting, it’s when two people turn toward each other (to the exclusion of the group) and start their own conversation-a sidebar.

Don’t over share.  We have all cringed when someone in a group setting decides to tell us every intimate detail of their life.  The best response?  TMI!  Too Much Information.

Don’t ever, ever, ever ask the following:  When are you two going to get married?  When are you two going to have kids?  When are you two going to have another baby?  Are you pregnant?

Don’t ever start a conversation with, “I hope you don’t take this wrong…”

Well, iSissies, you are now armed with great info to go out there and recognize Better Conversation Week by being the glib, conversant gal it takes to make everyone feel comfortable, validated and important.

But remember: People may forget what you say, they may forget what you do, but they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel.

Happy Better Conversation Week!  Stay tuned…tomorrow we will have some fun recognizing National Game and Puzzle Week.