Conversations should be like tennis: a back-and-forth dialogue conducted by two individuals who are completely present in the moment.
Unfortunately, however, they often turn into two games of racquetball: each player is using the other person as a wall bounce their reflection off of and have it served right back to them. Tennis games, on the other hand, represent the ideal type of conversations, ones which create and down interrupt the momentum of “flow state:” the harmonious dance of expression being passed back and forth between two people. Tennis conversations don’t happen as much as we’d like them to.
In this article, we will explore 5 common mistakes people make that break the conversation flow:
- Letting Your Ego Speak For You – In conversations that resemble racquetball, we are letting our ego take control: when we use the other person as a wall to bounce the all off of; when we have let the person know every two seconds that you also experienced something similar even though it wasn’t your time to share. The ego always must have the last word. In order to avoid this mistake, you must resist the temptation to skip ahead of the present moment and not indulge the ego.
- Asking Surface Level Questions: what do you do? How’s the weather? What are your plans this weekend? Anything fun? These are fine questions if in the appropriate context but otherwise this leads you right to the same old B.S. you discuss with literally everyone else
- Making Dead-End Statements: if every time someone asks you a question, you answer them in a way that is not engaging and requests a response from the other person, you are sure to break the flow. Show interest in the other person. If you are not sure what to say, just ask them the same thing they asked you.
- Assuming Outcomes Before The Moment Occurs – rather than already assume you know how someone will respond to a situation, hold space for them in a way that allows them to show up any way they want to, even if you are pretty sure you know what they will do. Give people the opportunity to surprise you.
- Keeping Your Phone Within Eyesight (if in person) – this makes it impossible for you to achieve complete presence in the moment in your interaction