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How to Have Better Group Conversations
This article is about becoming aware what to change when talking to someone.
And how to improve conversations with people in general.
You’d like to talk with them. Not at them.
Because all in all you want to give the conversation a vibe of being a team and collaborating.
Not competing. Collaborating will help you emanate a nice and clean energy that people are picking up on.
Competing will make them feel a negative energy. An energy sucking vibe.
No one likes that. But normally it is not talked about.
To shed some light on this facts you’re provided with this article.
Think about what others are experiencing, don’t just think about yourself.
Build and increase your level of empathy.
What do most people think when you’re talking to them and how do they behave?
Therefore I’ve assembled 4 points here.
If you consider and implement them this will change
a) Your perspective of people big time.
b) Their perspective and opinion of you too
c) Completely change your awareness level to a much higher level in the long run.
Those 4 points are:
- Waiting for the topic referred back to them.
- Do I already know what it is all about? Okay, I got it. Don’t need to listen to the rest.
- When it is my turn to speak?
- Is this a test? / Did I pass the test?
Let’s elaborate more deeply on those now.
1.) Waiting for the topic referred back to them.
This is what most people got running in their head when you’re talking to them:
They’re spinning their thoughts like:
“It’s all about me, me, me!”
“How does this relate to me? ”
If I was your average Joe and you say something that doesn’t relate to me,
I’m just going to block it off.
“When do we talk about me?”
“When it’s going to switch to something else that refers to me?”
“When do we talk about me?”
“My favorite topic: Me!”
Let’s make an example to make this even more clear:
Let’s assume you talk to someone you’ve just met.
And suddenly you’re talking about holidays. Vacation.
You: “You know I’d love to go to Hawaii again. It’s so beautiful. Especially the sunsets.
You can’t imagine the colors when it’s getting dark. So awesome because…”
Average Joe: “Dude, that’s nothing compared to Finland. You have to see the white nights there and the light.
Dude. That doesn’t impress me at all. Because I know that when I was in Finland…”
Now he’s going to share his own experiences instead.
You nod and think, yeah, but I wasn’t finished telling and you try again:
You: “Yeah, thanks for sharing. What I just wanted to add: You know that feeling when
the sun is lowering itself and suddenly everything is soaked in a golden light?
This feels like…”
No, Joe doesn’t wait until you’ve finished. Because now he got triggered again.
“Come on, Dude. I told you. Why you don’t listen to me? And if you didn’t know,
in the desert it’s even more awesome. Because when I was there…”
Now he even told you that you didn’t listen. He seems to see it like that.
And he goes into his life story.
And seems to even be aware of that, though he interrupted the conversation
thread you’ve created first, so at the moment he’s the one not really listening.
It isn’t you. Because all you wanted to do is to finish what you’ve told
and THEN listening to him. Right?
This is often the reason why people might say:
“Okay, dude. I’ve got to do something now. Have a nice time. See you later.”
You say that, but no way you mean it. Because it doesn’t make sense anymore with this person.
More on this point you’ll get when you read about the most common pitfalls.
2.) Do I get it?
As soon as someone says something and they get it, they’ll just cut off the rest.
They just don’t listen to the rest.
They just won’t.
You: “You know what is meant when someone says: I got no time for that right now?”
Average Joe: “Sure, they mean that they’re busy. I get it.”
You actually wanted to elaborate more on the point that you just found out,
that it means due to your level of awareness that they set their priorities differently.
So they don’t slice a time off for this thing and therefore will tell you that they got no time.
You: “No, I wanted to say that it is due to their priorities, because…”
Average Joe: “Yeah, right. I got my priorities too. I get it. Let’s change topic. What do you think about the political corruption in our country?”
Now you might even think: Does it even make sense to continue conversation with this person right here?
No, more probably it’s over!
Read more about how to prevent this here.
3.) When is it my turn to speak?
This one’s huge.
That’s actually the point where guys rip off the topic off of you
and go into their life story when there’s a trigger word.
Guys just waiting for their turn to talk.
WHEN DO WE TALK ABOUT ME?
Is she done? Now I can talk about what I want to talk.
Her: “I don’t know if I have time to meet you this evening. Maybe next weekend?”
Average Joy: “Yeah, I often also have no time to meet, you know, because I got my new position offered at work.
And I am trying to build my own business and earn…. oh, I’ll have to plan for my sister’s wedding as well.
So what about tomorrow?”
There is not even a single question why she’s suggesting next weekend. Instead, he’s talking about
why HE is so busy. No word about why she is so busy.
This leaves an atrocious feeling in your body. Both sides will feel an emotional sting.
Especially the one who wants to talk about something first. If you don’t become aware of this,
your conversations may always come to the same dreaded end.
So no one really likes that. You want to know even more? Than read one and implement the tips at the end.
4.) Am I being tested? – Did I pass the test?
Remember the Hawaiian example of point one, I’ve integrated to show how people want to relate it back to them.
This is always valid to this point.
Not because Mr. Average Joe is talking about himself. No, further, he tries to vie with you.
This is why his story is designed to be better than yours. Which instead lowers his value.
You: “The temperature here is very crazy.”
Average Joe: “… In Egypt or Cyprus, where I was last year, it’s even crazier…”
And the average Joe thinks it’s helping the conversation.
In reality it does not. It just lowers your value. And people sense that immediately.
If you’re really listening or drifting off.
Because if you’re “guilty” to hang on to one of these 4 issues you’re interacting
through these filters and this just kills your value and you come across as this very unlikable person.
For example, let’s imagine you’re starting to talk about something that happened to you.
About an issue that occurred while you were being on vacation, for example,
they don’t even talk about the issue itself. They keep bringing it back to themselves. And thus kill the flow.
They feel as well like this is a competition this their story has even to be better than yours.
Oh dude, that’s nothing, you won’t even imagine what happened on my vacations, it was much worse, because…
This kills the energy. Sucks the conversation dry and if it gets even worse depletes the respect
and kills the flow as well. The conversation fizzles out and it’s over.
If you don’t get this down, you’ll never get to a higher level.
The crazy thing is, what will people say that really understand the importance of those 4 points?
They will agree and say to you how amazing this works.
What if they don’t? They will listen to a bit of what you’re all about and then they drop off.
Avoid those 4 pitfalls and you’re good to go.
This will improve your negotiations, relationships, conversations and therefore your quality of life in general.
Create a Little Experience for Yourself
Just right now as an experiment for this week as well as to implement those 4 points:
Watch conversations that others are having.
And you’re going to see like this little hamster in their brain going like:
What does this have to do with me?
On and on.
Find out: When do they try to relate the topic back to them?
When do feel like being tested?
What happens so they go into their life story?
Can you see their mind racing: When it’s my turn to speak? Oh, now I can talk. Because there was my trigger word!
Have fun. Tell me what you’ve watched and how these tips changed what you experience.
P.S.: When you’ve implemented the tips or even could need some more advice, a good point to continue is to read about the
most common pitfalls.
Ok. Fine, you want to know more about conversations between two people?
Then read the text between the horizontal lines or head over to Want To Improve Your Conversations Big Time – Just Do this?
A phenomenon in group conversations is often that everyone talks, but no one has the feeling to be heard.
Instead of hurting the 4 points mentioned between the lines, try to engage the other persons.
When they tell something, ask them about those things
And here are 20 communication tips to improve your group conversations.
This is not necessarily business related, but can nevertheless help your conversations at your workplace as well.
Respect is like air: if you take it away, it’s all people can think about.
~Kerry Patterson – Author, Crucial Conversations
Every person may have a different point of view, no one has to be blamed or judged for that.
2nd Constructive Criticism
Ego-based criticism just to make oneself feel better and not to help the other person is not a good thing.
Cut it out. If you think the other person may have a disadvantage in her conceived status,
or have a better stand if you give actionable helpful advice, is much better and the thing to go for.
Don’t be like:
Your shirt sticks out, it irritates me.
Your shirt sticks out, put it in, so you won’t get stuck or rip it.
If you want to criticize someone tell them only critics about their behavior. Not about their identity.
Don’t be like:
I hate you because you never listen.
I hate when you don’t listen.
If you want to make them a compliment, compliment their identity. Not just their behavior.
Don’t be just like:
You listened very thoroughly today, well done.
You are a very good listener, well done.
This will increase this part of their identity. So they will become a better listener.
3rd Seek First to Understand then to be Understood
Like Stephen Covey preaches in 7 Habits of Highly Effective People*.
If you try to make the person you like to listen to understand you first, this will definitely be an opportunity to kill the flow completely.
Paraphrase and ask in your own words, if you got the point, if necessary. When you’re sure you understood everything, continue.
It’s almost like pressing the pause key when listening to an audio tape, to rethink or reconsider.
When everything is understood, you press play, to continue listening.
3rd Listening in a Present State (Practice that!)
Even better would be listening in a fully present state, without thinking ahead or rethinking but letting the words sink in.
This is a bigger issue like it might seem here.
Because in western countries we’re often used to hear sentences that make us think continuously.
And therefore our mind no longer works like the mind of a child, thus loses creativity and often inspiration, focus, concentration and a lot of things are diminished.
To give you a jump start just do one thing right now:
Now ask yourself:
What will be my next thought?
(This will immediately cause a positive shortcircuit in your brain and shut off your inner dialogue completely.
At least for a while.)
Then be silent. Wait until your next thought appears.
The more you are normally in your head, the faster the next thought will appear.
The moment from just having asked yourself until the next thought appears is when you’re completely present.
So now you know what it feels like to be present or are reminded again how it felt if you haven’t been present anymore for a long time.
There was no silence in your head? Because the next thought just popped up in your mind some milliseconds or seconds after?
No problem. Just ask yourself again:
What will be my next thought?
And you’ll notice the silence is stretched every time. The time span gets longer each time you repeat the cycle.
There is no limit. Repeat this sentence in your mind or aloud as many times as you want.
This is very basically explained the thing Eckhart Tolle explains in The Power of Now!* to get your mind back into the amount of activity that it had when you were a kid. Therefore your subconscious can take place again. Which is faster, less energy draining and makes you wittier in an instant.
4th Mention your Opinion don’t force it onto Others
Do you know the goal of a discussion?
It’s not necessarily to force your opinion on others so you WIN the discussion.
A discussion is meant to bring up your point of view, to be controversy and just throw it in.
What often happens though is, someone thinks the goal of a discussion is to win and tries to win it.
He feels tested. He thinks he got it and knows he’s the one who’s the most knowledgeable.
If you’re doing this for fun, go for it.
If you try to force it onto others because you’re seeking for approval reconsider doing so.
In most of the cases, it’s better to stop it.
5th Collaborate don’t Compete
This can be considered from two angles at least:
If you’re in a collaborative space you’re basically in an upwards spiral, which means you are talking WITH the persons in the group.
If you’re in a competitive space you’re talking AT or AGAINST the other people in the group.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t state your opinion. For sure you can. In a respectful way.
6th Appreciate the Person
This sounds easy, there is not much to do, right?
This could also be called: See the person.
No, not right. This means that you really pay attention to who this person is.
The way he sees himself as well as the identity if possible.
You’re a good listener (identity)
You listen well (behavior)
The identity is always engrained into a person’s character. We love to be validated for our identity.
7th Ask Good Questions
Don’t just ask like: What do you mean?
If you want to know more, put more effort into the conversation. Better questions will elicit better answers.
One good question may help you big time.
8th No Real Life WhatsApp Messenger Talk
Don’t talk to the people in the conversations like you would do in a Messenger where you have cultivated to invest less and less.
Until no one gets the hang of it anymore. This will be a conversation that’s bad to the bone.
Be engaged. Energize. Make an effort, if the conversation trickles reanimate it. Keep it alive.
9th Why instead of How
If you want to know more about a person in that group to form a deeper connection or maybe even to develop a friendship,
ask not just what they’re doing. Ask WHY they’re doing it. Make the attempt to create impact.
10th How instead of Why
Yeah, you’re right. This is totally contradicting to 10. Read on to know why.
In a more business related context the opposite can be more helpful:
Instead of problem oriented asking
Why does this never work?
ask solution oriented questions:
How can we solve the problem?
11th Yeat, that’s good but…
Did you know that a “good” placed BUT can completely kill a conversation?
Yeah I really liked how the software works, it’s perfect now, but there are still some flaws in it.
You’re basically saying:
YES – it’s very good.
And when you’re introducing the BUT, you weakened the YES.
BUT – it’s not good.
This is a contradiction per se which often times leads to discussion, though the person using BUT is most likely not aware of the cause,
just the effect.
12th Don’t kill the Thread(s)
Some people have a tendency to throw in the dreaded:
Yeah, but what if…
Normally this will not be a good idea because the one speaking or telling a story is most likely to follow his own threads.
This would be a try to lead his threads to yours and cut him off. Not good.
13th Stay Focused to be heard
When it’s still not your turn to talk, because the other person is still explaining,
you will notice, if you’re a good listener that at a certain point the conversation turns around.
Always. Have faith. So now you’re the one that is listened to.
That’s why it’s really worth to train your listening skills.
14th Couple Communication Traning
If the little groups of 2 persons can improve their conversation skills this will help the group.
Therefore, it’s definitely helpful to train each two people constellations for the better.
You can also have a look at deep trust, in this case, especially watch out for pitfalls.
15th Eliminate the Parrott
Don’t just repeat everything your conversation partner says to sound like you’re listening. Don’t feign interest. Which may be another pitfall.
If you paraphrase like mentioned before it’s ok. If you don’t know what to say to the topic though you’d like to contribute, just admit, that you don’t know.
This is a chance to learn.
I am sorry, I have never heard of that. I know absolutely nothing. I am curious to learn.
Though we may feel many times like WE SHOULD KNOW that, it’s impossible.
Too many information are spread nowadays.
In former times searching meant: Find if there is any information about the topic.
Today you are most likely to find something about everything, but is it really valuable?
Searching means filtering today. Especially online.
16th Don’t be the Elephant in the Room
This is for sure not always the easiest part.
Considering group talks it means becoming aware of the things going on.
There could be a shift in the group energy.
Someone might have such a need for approval that it can kill the whole group talk.
Become increasingly aware of the subtle nuances.
17th Everyone has the Right to Talk
Even if you don’t like someone in this group, if he’d like to talk, let him talk. Don’t just cut him off.
At least as long as the communication is still respectful.
If you hear several people talking about the same thing in the conversation, why not call them out on it and combine it with a bigger conversational part of the group talk?
Hey, guys, I heard you 3 talk about going to Vietnam this year. I consider going there too, what did you find out already?
And do you think it’s important to learn a little bit of the language or is English well known there?
Go for it.
19th Offer Help – If Wanted
If you see someone struggling with a topic, offer help.
Which might not be as easy as it sounds. Why?
Because you could kill the flow.
Let’s say Marni and Hughes talk about social cues and suddenly they get stuck.
But you notice they’re also looking around, which means either:
They’re lost so they’d like to talk about something else now or it could mean they’re seeking for help.
Just throw yourself in in that case.
I heard you talked about social cues and were not sure about the 3 components you should project your voice:
- positive energy
If you know, why not add: I know a good book about this topic by… oh!
I know a good book about this topic by… oh!
I mean I didn’t want to disturb your dialogue.
Oh no, Marni, interrupts me, please. We talked about this 10 minutes and now we got stuck it would be awesome if you could point out some helpful resources.
I am really glad you jumped in to direct us to some useful materials.
20th Be Aware of Your Subcommunication
Yes. This also needs a lot of practice.
The subtext of what you want to communicate can be completely different from what you really want to say.
Lucy is a secretary and is suddenly asked by the group, what she’d like to really be?
But Lucy looks offended at once and doesn’t really want to answer anymore.
Because this sub communicates that her job is crap.
This is really a big insult.
Don’t create an elephant in the room being clueless why Lucy’s state suddenly shifted into an abyss of anger.
21st Have Fun
Just enjoy the group talk, also joking is allowed, especially if the context of the group talk is not so much business context related.
22nd Say Goodbye
Even if you’re about to leave don’t just disappear in an instant like Superman.
Appreciation and respect don’t stop there. Say goodbye to show good manners.
Otherwise, you’ll be soon known as a runaway guy for sure.
23rd Last Tip: Language Skills
Another thing you can do for sure, especially if the conversation takes place abroad,
sharpen your language skills. If necessary learn the language of the country that is used there.
Especially if you have to stay there for a longer time.
For example in China Chinese is more valuable than English.
In South-America Spanish is more valuable than English.
In Brazil Portuguese is more valuable than English.
There are still many countries where English is not well-spoken.
Adapt to the circumstances as soon as possibles if needed.
You can also give yourself a challenge by writing an English blog, so you’ll sharpen your skills offline and online,
in terms of writing and reading, directly and indirectly, passive and active.
Ok, guys, that’s it for today.
Don’t just read the tips, apply them.
And I know I kinda lied to you. 22nd tips + even one more bonus tips are not 20, but 23.
I hope you got some value out of those tips and can immediately do something to improve your group conversations.
Is everything clear?
If you got a different opinion or miss a point or got different angles, everything is welcome.
Share your opinion in the comments below or write a mail.
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