Five Tips for Conversation at Holiday Parties and Family Gatherings
Skillful communication is always expedient. Awareness of the way others interpret what we say helps us communicate with intentionality and show our investment in the conversation. Without question, the advantages of effective communication are multifaceted, both personally and professionally.
The ability to communicate well strengthens influence and builds empathy, a crucial and often underestimated life skill.
Engage these useful tips as you converse with family and friends:
Practice Intentionality — Ask questions to learn more.
As a rule, we ask general questions as a cordial formality. If honest, however, we give minimal attention to the answer. We all think we are subtle. Yet, others easily read superficiality or disinterest. The last time you asked a casual question merely for sake of politeness, how thoughtfully did you pay attention to the answer? Perhaps this is why we stereotype holiday parties as full of awkward conversation. With this in mind, make it a point to ask intentional questions with the focused intent to learn more about the person with whom you are speaking.
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. Furthermore, we often interrupt each other in conversation due to a conflicting train of thought or disinterest in the conversation. Too often, we become preoccupied with our own thoughts and fail to give equal consideration to the thoughts of others. Instead, we can choose to stay “in the moment” – interested, mindful, and present in our conversations.
Maintain eye contact.
Good eye contact expresses interest and engagement. 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 very obvious to the person with whom we are speaking but often unconscious to us. Mindfully adjust body language to appear relaxed and appealing. Crossed arms or slouching, though it may seem comfortable, can easily communicate disinterest. Resist underestimating 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 engagement over a shared interest quite often makes the conversation easier and all the more enjoyable.