4 Tips for Powerful Conversations
About 4 minutes to read[imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”bounce” animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][separator style_type=”none” top_margin=”15″ bottom_margin=”” sep_color=”” border_size=”” icon=”” icon_circle=”” icon_circle_color=”” width=”” alignment=”center” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]It was a cold, dark spring evening when the doorbell rang. Answering the door, I was delighted to see my adorable little neighbour excitedly wanting to speak to me.
Hi my boy, what can I do for you? Do you want to come in?
I need a würfel, he told me. I was confused. The conversation was in German, my non-native tongue, and I did not know the meaning of the word.
I immediately asked him what a würfel was, but being only four years old he lacked alternative words in his vocabulary for würfel.
My partner was exercising in the basement so I threw open a door and yelled, the kid wants a würfel, what exactly is that? There was a moment’s pause and then the reply came, a cube.
Well this word I knew, so I took him into the kitchen and began digging through the cupboards for vegetable and beef cubes.
I asked him what flavour his daddy would like, chicken, beef, or vegetable? He smiled and told me würfels don’t have a flavour.[/fusion_text][fusion_text]What do you mean I asked him, of course they do. No, he replied, quite insistently, they don’t have a flavour, you play with them!
As you can imagine I was quite indignant that his father hadn’t taught him not to play with food, and told him so. At this point he burst out giggling and said, Angie you’re so funny!
Well I was not feeling very funny but rather confused. What exactly did the kid want? Therefore, I went back to the basement door and yelled, he says a cube doesn’t have a flavour and you play with it. What does he want?
There was a longer pause and the answer came back, he wants dice.
Talk about a light bulb moment! While a würfel is both a cube AND a dice, I had the completely wrong interpretation. This interaction with the little guy was very funny and had us both laughing but it taught me some valuable lessons about communication and being present in conversations.
- Remain present, curious and ask the question differently.
When I did not understand the request I turned the question into a “solve the mystery quest” instead of remaining present in the conversation. I could have stayed with him and asked the questions differently for e.g. what does it looks like, where can you use it, how big it is etc. Instead I instantly I went elsewhere and received an answer but the wrong meaning.
How often do we neglect to remain present in a conversation, turning it into something that it is not? Do we actively listen and ask questions that move the conversation forward or are we trying to get it out of the way to move onto the next point?
- Don’t make assumptions
When I received the answer to my question, I immediately assumed that I understood what was communicated. I jumped into action based on the incorrect assumptions I made. I had the answer, I was no longer curious and my mind closed to other possibilities, I had a form of tunnel vision.
I love that assume means to make an ass of u and me. Ass-u-me.
How often in our daily lives, do we hear and interpret conversations based on our strong assumptions. The true meaning is misunderstood; the essence of the discussion lost. We do not connect deeply in conversation because our minds have run off on a tangent of false assumptions. We make an ass of others and ourselves because we assume.
- Check your judgements at the door
Based on all my false assumptions and own conditioning I decided that my neighbours’ are most likely bad parents. “Hearing” that he wanted to play with the “food,” I was unimpressed and judgmental.
I see this daily in every sphere of life. We constantly judge people, situations, and things based on our own beliefs and experiences. However, when we talk with someone, is it our job to judge him or her? Is our opinion or judgment so important in the greater scheme of things? I think not.
I am convinced that 99% of the time people just want to be heard. They want to know that their voice has landed, that the recipient holds a space for them in non-judgment, that they can a connection.
It is not easy to practice non-judgment, and I try remembering that how I would like to be treated is how I should practice treating others.
- Embrace your humanity
Part of the joy of this life is being imperfectly human. We think, say, and do things that are not always edifying to ourselves and often pride separates us from a fuller life experience.
Sometimes you simply have to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” You never know where embracing your own humanity might lead.
In my case, I apologised to the little guy. I told him that Angie is silly and can’t always speak German very well but that I would try to improve. I have noticed that when I’m stuck on a word he jumps in to supply me with another. When I don’t understand what he means he expresses himself differently.
By admitting I was wrong and would try harder, he has stepped into the gap and seems to have taken compassion on this linguistically challenged adult and we maintain a great connection to one another.[/fusion_text]