Five Tips for Conversation at Holiday Parties and Family Gatherings
Skillful communication is always useful. Awareness of the way others interpret what we communicate will help us convey any message authentically and prove our investment in the conversation. The benefits of effective communication carry far beyond the office. The advantages of effective communication are multifaceted, both personally and professionally.
Being able to communicate well can not only help us be more influential among those with whom we converse but helps develop empathy, a crucial and often underestimated life skill.
Here are some useful tips to remember as you converse with family and friends this Christmas:
Practice Intentionality — Ask questions to learn more.
In casual conversation, we ask general questions as a cordial formality. However, if honest, we give minimal attention to the answer. Although we think we are subtle, others easily read superficiality or disinterest. When is the last time you asked a question and thoughtfully considered the answer? Is this why holiday parties stereotypically contain awkward and uncomfortable conversation? This holiday, make it a point to ask intentional questions with the focused intent to learn more about the person with whom you are talking.
Practice mindfulness – Actively listen.
We must learn to listen, just to listen. Because we live in a society marked by hurry, we find it hard to slow down, especially around the holidays. Furthermore, we often interrupt each other in conversation either due to our mental train of thought or disinterest in the conversation. Mindfulness is defined by BlueEQ as, “being present in the moment, focusing on the person or situation at hand, and being aware of moment to moment.” We often become preoccupied with our own thoughts and fail to give equal consideration to the thoughts of others. This holiday, practice staying “in the moment”: interested, mindful, and present in the conversations. .
Maintain eye contact.
Good eye contact expresses interest and engagement, helping promote mindfulness and focus in the present moment. On the other hand, lack of eye contact communicates distraction, disinterest, or, even in some cases, dishonesty. Conscious awareness and appropriate use of good eye contact is essential, showing others your genuine interest and concentration on them.
Pay attention to body language.
Our body language is a form of communication often unconscious by us but very obvious to the person with whom we are speaking. In any conversation, intentionally adjust your body language to appear relaxed and appealing. Crossing your arms or slouching, though it may seem comfortable, can easily communicate disinterest. Do not forget to pay attention to this form of non-verbal communication.
Find a common interest.
Generating conversation can be difficult. It is often hard to keep a conversation going, especially over a topic that only marginally engages both parties. Find a common interest. Steer the conversation to be thought-provoking for you as well as the other person with whom you are talking. Your attention and enthusiasm over the shared interest will make the conversation easier and even enjoyable.