December 9th, 2013
Getting together with big groups of friends and family this holiday season? Chances are that you will be drawn into a conversation with someone you don’t know or haven’t seen in a while. For many of us, there is a level of social anxiety that comes from starting, maintaining and ending conversations around the holidays. While a few glasses of eggnog might offer a quick fix to help ease the grip on our social inhibitions, I thought I would provide 5 more socially holistic tips to help ensure that your holiday dialogue is as happy and healthy as you are:
A massive percentage of our communication with others is non-verbal. Make sure that you demonstrate your level of engagement in a conversation by being conscious of your body language and the energy you are committing to your fellow conversationalists. In other words, don’t be a disinterested slouch. Develop greater presence by finding a relaxed demeanor within a good posture and by maintaining solid eye contact with your audience. In simple terms, let your body be the ultimate expression of how engaged you are in a conversation and you will draw greater confidence in your social self.
Don’t you hate that teeny tiny awkward feeling that you get when a conversation goes silent? You know, that microscopic void of sound that occurs after one topic has been exhausted and either a. the next has not yet been explored or b. it’s time to walk away?
We all experience it. And it sucks!
But this holiday season, don’t hate the awkward silence; Love it! Reframe the way you embrace silence and teach yourself to be comfortable there. Silence is not a bad thing but we sometimes fear it because it is a vulnerable space where our individualized awkwardness has the potential to really shine through. But if you’ve trained your mind and body to embrace the silence, you might just find yourself more comfortable in your conversations over the
Want to keep someone engaged in a conversation? You are in more control than you think. If you are used to being the director of the conversation, try letting that go and practice selfless communication by asking open-ended questions. Use your ‘why’s’ and ‘hows’ to give others an opportunity to tap into their stream of consciousness and speak freely, they will become more present and engaged. Then, if you execute #4, you will benefit from them having had the floor.
Active listening and interesting/relevant output tend to be the trailblazers of engaging conversations. When we are at our healthiest socially, it is because we have achieved a balance between the two. The active listening is the cornerstone. When someone else is speaking to you in conversation, ‘open your ears’ and actually comprehend the information that is coming in. Absorb it. Process it. That way, when you have the opportunity to further a discussion, you will have the tools to create a compelling and intelligible re-direction.
No one likes to leave an unfinished conversation. There is something unsettling about it. This holiday season, practice ending. Ending sentences, ending conversation, definitively and don’t be in such a hurry to start a new one. Of course people get interrupted or called elsewhere but even then, take some time to bring some closure to the interaction that you have invested in. Both parties will appreciate a decidedly finished conversation.
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