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Mindful : August 2014
Illustration by Jason Lee 66 mindful August 2014 The Art of Conversation Conversation in the original Latin had a ver y broad meaning. It meant something like “living together, having dealings with others,” and it referred to more than just talking. We can learn a lot from connecting to this original bigger sense of the word. When we're having a real conversation we're actively exchanging—giving and receiving—which begins with truly being together. We can’t exchange something with someone when they, or we, are not present. We can talk to them, we can talk at them, but we can’t have a conversation. In contrast to a genuine conversation, talking can happen with little regard for whether someone is listening. We have something to say, we say it—often finding out later that no one really heard us. Words are precious. Talking without being heard amounts to just throwing them away. We don’t communicate to be ignored, misinterpreted, or misunderstood. We give in order to be received. If we take a look at our conversation style based on five elements, we might find valuable doors open and take us into more mindful and ar tful conversation. Dawa Tarchin Phillips is president of Empower- ment Holdings, a leader- ship consulting firm, and a research specialist at the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UC Santa Barbara. 1 Be present: “Con” means together with. If you want to have a conversation, be pres- ent, fiercely. Since the value of a conversation lies in what all par ties have given and/or gained, if you're not present, there will be no exchange. 2 Think before you speak: Tak e the time you need to craft your language. It’s not how quickly or slowly you respond. It's the value you offer that matters. If no one in a conversation is offering any thing of value, everyone will try to end it as soon as they can get away. For more on mindfulness practice, go to mindful.org/ inpractice. To submit questions about techniques, the workplace, or relationships and home life, email email@example.com 3 Make yourself heard: Saying something worth hearing helps make great conversation. We love it when we're affected by what we hear, when words move us. If you're not being heard, don’t blame your audi- ence. Come up with something that engages them more. Build a bridge all the way across. 4 Be relational before being transactional: Take time to develop the relational aspect of the conversation without focusing solely on the give- and-take of thoughts. Build an opening for experiences and insights to flow through. Show that you care, and if you have a lot to say, make sure the open- ing you've made is big enough to handle the volume you're transmitting. 5 Enjoy yourself and let go: A real exchange happens when all sides are enriched. Learn to enjoy yourself throughout a conversation, not just when you got what you came for or had a chance to say your piece. You don’t sing to get to the end of the song or live to get to the end of life. Enjoyment is a choice and vital to having an ar tful conversation. And when you’re done, let it go. ● techniques in practice