Conversation skills require practice: A teacher shares her story about the importance of conversation
One thing that is a toughy in today’s world: Humans (all humans…young and old) generally have degraded communication skills.
We can thank technology for this: Email, social media, texting, video games…they’ve all taken our eyes off each other…and focused them on screens.
More often than not, we type and click send as a very significant part of our daily communication. As much as this is part of modern life…it’s also exceptionally impersonal and lacking in emotion.
Conversation skills require practice, BUT today, people simply don’t practice their conversation skills.
Like throwing and catching: No practice = no skill!
Interpersonal communication is emotional! Humans are emotional animals…and thrive with positive interactions and relationships.
Here’s an idea for you…regarding muscle memory and practicing conversation skills at work:
A teacher friend of mine recently shared this with me:
“Yesterday, I shut down class about 10 minutes early and told my students I wanted them to just sit and talk to one another. Several of them immediately opened their laptops and began navigating to their favorite whatever (social media, game, etc…). I said, ‘No, no laptops. I want you to have face-to-face conversations right now.’ After a collective groan went up, and after a couple minutes…I observed something both wonderful and alarming. For the next few minutes, a couple of tables came alive with conversation. They looked each other in the eyes and talked with great enthusiasm and interest. It was beautiful to watch and listen to.
However, many students were deflated. They did not know what to do without some sort of entertainment from a device. A couple of them put their heads down and avoided eye contact with anyone. I went around the room to those students and tried to engage with them. Some of them mustered a few words, but most didn’t know what to do.
I share this story as a wakeup call for parents. It’s tragic to me that a large percentage of today’s youth do not know how to have real conversation, but it’s not their fault. It is our responsibility as adults to lead by example and hold our kids accountable. Unplug every day, talk, and listen to your children. Getting lost in a device does not help them cope with and overcome the things they’re going through mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
All it causes is isolation and depression. They need relationships; they need you.”
- WHAT IF: At your next sales or staff meeting, you shut it down 10-minutes early…and tell your people: No phones, no tablets, no laptops?
- WHAT IF: You scheduled a weekly or bi-monthly staff get together for 10-15 minutes…with the sole purpose of conversations?
- WHAT IF: Your people got so good at interpersonal conversation…that it translated into a more positive, enjoyable workplace?
- WHAT IF: Your peoples’ conversation skills got so good…that your business became (or remained) of bastion of positive conversation and customer service between employees and customers?
Nothing too complex here. Just simple stuff that humans (young and old) used to be much better at. You can fix it! Or if you’re crew is already good at it…you can keep those conversation skills sharp!
After all, NBA Basketball players still practice free throws. That’s pretty basic stuff for people who are considered some of the best athletes in the world.
If they can practice the basics on a regular basis…perhaps you and your employees can too!
Spencer Rubin is a sales/marketing expert and a passionate advocate for the success of small, local business owners. To sign up for Spencer’s weekly Catalyst Newsletter, contact 971-732-4745. “Don’t give up, don’t EVER give up” ~Coach Jim Valvano