- Bring Flowers, Not Assumptions
What’s easier than holding preconceived notions about others? They can parade through our minds as if on auto-pilot. Try to erase your set notions about those who will join you for the festivity. Instead, attend the event with a clean slate… and a bouquet of flowers for the host.
- Listen to Understand, Not Reply
How often are you thinking of your response to what you’re hearing instead of listening with an open heart and empathy for the speaker? Practice listening with your whole being and see what that feels like.
- Think of Conversation as Tennis Practice
For you tennis, ping pong, Frisbee, badminton, volleyball, and other multi-player game participants: do you ever try keeping the ball, Frisbee, shutter-cock, etc. aloft without dropping it or slamming it back at your partner? Instead of ‘one-upping’ your conversation partner with your own experience (this is called ‘story-stealing’), listen and respond to her story. Or wait until you’re asked for your thoughts on the topic.
- Politics Can Be Poison
In today’s political climate political discussions can easily get toxic. Forget trying to convert your verbal opponent. Won’t happen, so why bother? Instead, just listen, or better, change the subject to something you both can agree on.
- Avoid the ‘Organ Recital’
It doesn’t take much to launch into a discourse on your most recent ‘procedure.’ Usually others will want to one-up you with their health experience. Before long, Thanksgiving has turned into a medical history convention. Once you begin the journey to Medicine Gulch, there’s usually no turning back. Ugh.
- Use ‘Magic’ Words
Use “and,” not “but.’
Try “help me understand,” not “why?”
Instead of “You’re wrong,” say: “What about…”
- Break Out the Family Photo Album(s)
A wonderful way to talk about common memories, childhood experiences, and favorite relatives. What a great springboard for finding unity, not discord.
- Open Your Questions
Avoid questions that evoke yes or no replies. Use “How” or “What” or other words that seek explanation, not dismissal.
- Embrace Paradox and Ambiguity
Life is not lived out in black or white, but in grays. It’s possible that you and your antagonist may both be right, if you put yourself in their shoes. Showing empathy is the highest form of listening.
- Your Body Speaks Volumes
Remember the 38-55 Rule: 7% of communication is words; 38% is tone; 55% is body language. If you start observing how others express themselves, it’s likely you’ll see evidence of the 38-55 Rule.