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Putting a little extra effort into our spoken communication
means a richer and more productive outcome
Snorkelling is the favourite summertime activity for lots of people.
But perhaps it isn't the most adventurous pasttime. After all, it
takes place mostly on or very close to the surface of the water. It
requires almost no equipment. And not a great amount of effort either.
Scuba diving, on the other hand, is very different. This activity
requires very specific gear and a willingness to literally go to much
deeper places. But the extra effort involved is really worth it,
because that's where the real treasures often lie.
This is much like our day-to-day conversations with other people. So
many of our verbal exchanges happen at the most basic level. On the
surface. At best they can be an exchange of facts. At worst they're
just a series of hollow words with very little meaning or intent
attached to them.
"Hi, how are you?"
"How's your meal, Sir?"
On the other hand, putting a little extra effort into our spoken
communication means a richer and more productive outcome. Think about
your responses to routine questions. While you might not want to
actually tell the whole truth when asked "How are
you?", you can choose to respond with something of more
value than simply "good" or
"well". Something like; "I'm really well,
thanks for asking" or "I had a cold last week but
I'm better now. How about you?". The aim is to vary your
response so that the other person actually listens to your answer and
is interested enough to continue the conversation.
Putting more effort into the phrasing of our own questions can also
result in a better conversation. Using more open questions (which
require a longer response) in place of closed questions (which require
only a one or two-word response) means that more information is
exchanged and, hopefully, deeper communication takes place.
For example, a closed question would be; "Are you going out
tonight?" The possible answers might be;
"Yes", "No" or
"Haven't thought about it".
A semi-open version of the same question would be: "Where
are you going tonight?" This would hopefully elicit more
specific answers, such as; "Dinner", "The
movies" or "I feel like a night in".
The open version of the question would be; "How did you
choose the restaurant you're going to this evening?" This
should give you the most interesting answer; "Well, I really
felt like Asian food but wasn't sure what type. So I Googled it and
looked on some food websites and discovered a new Vietnamese
restaurant that's just opened in Newtown."
While what you say is very important, how you say it also
has a big impact on the quality of your conversation. Using a warm
tone of voice, varying the pitch, pace and volume of your voice and
ensuring that you use good eye contact and appropriate gestures will
also enhance the conversation.
Next time you're talking with someone, take the time and effort go a
bit deeper. You'll feel all the better for it. And who knows what
hidden treasures you may uncover.