You can go ahead an read all the self help/ self development/ self improvement sites out there for tips on how to have better conversations and you’ll notice one thing: they all teach how to fake having a conversation.
Their advice go from looking the other person in the eyes to nodding from time to time, repeating or rephrasing what has been said, topics to make the conversation better and so on. These are all wonderful tips, but when you are engaged in a meaningful conversation, you already do most of them without having to force yourself. These come natural to you.
You don’t need to learn how to be better at having a conversations, but how to approach conversations in order to make them better. And it’s not about faking them. It doesn’t matter if you look the other person in the eyes or rephrase or follow any other tips out there. If this was true, Stephen Hawking would be the worst person to have a conversation with and everyone would avoid him, but in reality it’s the opposite.
You aren’t good at having a conversation because you don’t want to have that conversation in the first place. If you want a meaningful conversation make sure you really want to be in that conversation. A conversations requires at least two people genuinely interested in what’s being discussed in order for it to be truly a conversation.
It all comes down to this: enter every conversation assuming that you have something to learn or don’t do it at all. Each person knows at least one thing that you don’t. It’s up to you if you want to find out what that is.
TLDR version… Sorry, don’t have one.
Just some random facts before we go on:
- the attention span started going down somewhere around 1950 and is going down at an increasing rate ever since
- if 10 years ago you had about 5 minutes to capture the attention of your audience when delivering a presentation, now it’s down to less then 2 minutes before everyone starts checking their phone
- facebook videos have a 80% drop in audience after the first 10 seconds
- there are stories being told in tens of tweets of 140 characters instead of a compact block of text just because their target audience would dismiss them when seeing a block of text
TLDR went from a simple “too long didn’t read” and became the motto of Generation Z – and it’s applied to everything, not just reading a text anymore. It’s become part of the lifestyle where people aren’t willing to dedicate more then just a few minutes of uninterrupted attention to something before they dismiss it, or even worst, they just dismiss everything that will require too much time without even trying to see if it’s worth it or not. It’s the search of the sensational, the rush of adrenaline or the meaningfulness in a second.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of long posts, mails, calls, meetings or anything else that could easily be reduced and save time. But, and here it’s a really big BUT a lot of people seem to be missing. Quality, meaning and relevance can’t always be kept when trying to reduce everything and narrow it down to a tweet, a vine video or a 2 minutes presentation. You can’t live your life 5 minutes at a time. Or maybe you can, but does it have the same quality or does it provide the same in depth experience? Will it have the same meaning or relevance?
This attitude affects both professional and personal life of more and more people each day without them even knowing it.
Professionally you can’t reach mastery without investing a lot of time in your work. You can’t learn/teach someone to play the piano in 5 minutes and expect them to play Bach or Mozart. You can’t write the next A Song of Ice and Fire in 140 characters tweets. You can’t find the cure for HIV by stopping to check your facebook feed every time someone posts something. Great results are obtained by dedicating long uninterrupted periods of time to your work. You need to focus on your tasks, get into your flow state and only then will you be able to produce your best results. When you are used to dismiss everything after a few minutes and you are not able to maintain your focus, you set yourself for falling short on doing exceptional work and delivering outstanding results.
Also, in your personal life the things that really matter can’t be reduced to a tweet or a 9 seconds vine. You need to take your time in order to enjoy them as you should. Getting a preview is not the same. You can’t enjoy the beauty of a sunset/ sunrise in a 9 seconds vine. You can’t grasp the beauty of climbing Kilimanjaro by looking at some picture by someone who was there. You can’t understand the joy of finishing a marathon by sprinting for 100 meters. You can’t build lasting relationships by exchanging tweets or by listening to your partner for 2 minutes and then taking your phone out to check your feed.
True value is in the details and you can’t have that without being willing to invest time!
I got to vs I get to is the perfect example how your words and how you phrase your life makes the difference between happiness and sadness, between an awesome life and a dull one.
You have to get up and go to work. You have to do your tasks. You have to go to the gym. You have to eat your vegetables. You have to go to that network party. You have to… Everything is an obligation nowadays, even your leisure time activities. You just have to take a vacation, go see a movie with your girlfriend, go to that birthday party, buy that new TV set.
On the other had, there are people who get to go to that great job, get to do awesome things at work, get to workout, get to eat healthy, get to meet all these incredible people. For them everything is a chance. A chance to do, learn, improve, connect, enjoy.
Changing just a single word in how you phrase your life can create a totally different image on your activities. Everything offers a reason to be happy, a chance to learn, an opportunity to do something exciting, but it’s up to you if you see it as an obligation or as an opportunity.
You can change that “I got to” into “I get to” anytime. It’s all a matter of how you phrase it.
I see a lot of people unhappy with the way the look, the job they have, the place they live, the friends/ boyfriend/ husband they have, their lifestyle. The person you are today is made of all the choices from yesterday and the day before and the day before that… These choices define who, how and what we are today.
But, today is a new day. A new day full of possible choices to be made. The big question is: What are you going to choose today? Are you still going to make the same choices that you did the day before? Are you going to keep making the same choices that make you unhappy, bored, dissatisfied, sad or are you going to make different ones?
You can choose to eat that unhealthy food or you can have a salad today. You can sit all day and watch TV or you could go out for a run or even a long walk this evening. You can be afraid and avoid taking any chances like always do or you can get out of your comfort zone for once. You can keep smoking or just not smoke for a day. You can complain about all of the wrong things in your life or you can make one better today.
You don’t need to make a lifetime commitment not to smoke, to eat healthy, to take risks or exercise each day. You just have to make a choice for today. Tomorrow is a different day, with different choices, but you will also be different. These small decisions you made today will define a different you for tomorrow. And, maybe, that person with today’s experience of new and different choices, might make better ones.
Every day is full of choices and the choices you make today define who you will be tomorrow.
Where do you walk when you are in a hurry?
If you look at people on the street, the ones who are in a hurry always walk on the edge of the sidewalk. In the middle you will find the slow walkers, the ones looking around to admire the city, the ones going with the flow. On the edge you will find less people, the ones who are in a haste to get somewhere, the ones who want to be the first.
You can also apply this when it comes to business cases, your career and almost anything else. Those on the edge are the ones who will always move faster. Start-ups also start on the edge. The middle is crowded by big companies; while the edge is where you’ll find a lesser crowd and the possibility to advance fast, gain speed and make a difference.
People with bright careers are also on the edge. They’re the ones moving fast, getting out of the middle where everyone is fighting for the same jobs, projects and contracts. They shift quickly, take risks and advance at a higher pace than the ones looking around and walking in the same pace as everyone else.
Where you walk is your choice.