Are you talking to me?

Practise the art of conversation this Christmas

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When was the last time you had a real conversation? I'm talking about those conversations where you feel rejuvenated, where your mind literally feels like it's been opened wide and you are filled with wonderment and a world of possibilities. As opposed to the ones where you're busy rehearsing your response and where you can't wait for the other person to finish. Worse still you cut them mid-sentence because if you don't make your point right that minute you will surely explode!

Before you squirm at the thought of someone else taking over your conversation, believe me when I say, a good conversation can add more spice into life than any copious amounts of mulled wine. Why? well, because it involves really engaging with another human being, focusing on them, listening to them, and if you're really good, it means subconsciously sensing what someone is actually trying to say through micro-emotions via body language.

The reason why a good conversation can be so enlightening is that when you are listening it means you are not busy controlling anything. You're not occupied with ensuring you take the lead and dominate what is being talked about. Because that way you will rarely talk about anything new, it'll always be the rehashed stories you've said countless times before. Don't get me wrong, if you get anxious in social situations and worry about how you'll cope at a party, sure it's good to have your best jokes and anecdotes to inject at the correct moment. But unfortunately as is the case with many of us, we end up using the same stories over and over again or even forgetting entire conversations we've had with people, as they all roll into one.

Back to my point about why a good conversation opens the mind, it's because you let yourself be led into someone else's world, you see and experience it through someone else's eyes. And it is widely acknowledged that us humans, well we love to learn and develop, and indeed we thrive on it. What's more, in the scientific world when you do something new, it is said you build new neuron connections. And this literally does open your eyes to a whole new world to quote that all knowing, all wise sage - Aladdin!

Numerous books and articles have been written about the art of listening, indeed tips on paraphrasing and being non-judgemental are given to staff working on helplines up and down the land. But when we're really in the moment and really present, don't we do this regardless?

So as we prepare to spend the next few days with our nearest, dearest and our acquaintances, why don't we make a promise - a promise to give them the most invaluable gift of all this Christmas, our attention and our presence.


Freelance Journalist

A freelance broadcast journalist with a healthy interest in mental wellbeing, music and travel, with over ten years' experience in radio news and a developing experience in print and television.