Verbal communication is a game of tones. You can say the same thing two different ways and mean two totally different things. Healthy communication is less about what you actually say but rather than how you say it. Try and notice where your voice comes from when you are around someone that frustrates you. For some people it could be certain friends. For others it could family or colleagues. Being aware of where your voice comes from and how it’s projected could be the difference in a good and fun conversation or a condescending and argumentative conversation. There are a couple things to look out for to help get rid of this subconscious habit.
When talking with people that frustrate you, it can be difficult to keep your cool and turn the conversation towards a healthier pastures. The first thing I notice is my instinctive response almost always starts with “but” or some other condescending word. This is the first red flag. I also notice where my voice is coming from. If my voice feels like it’s starting in my throat area, then chances are I’m not communicating effectively to have a fun conversation. Usually this means that I’m being condescending and looking for an argument. And more often than not, my talking partner will do the same back to me without me purposefully asking for it. When my voice comes from deep inside my chest and diaphragm, then my tones say confidence and collaboration. There are less “but” sentences and more laughs, more idea sharing, and less judging. This is the types of conversations we want to have with people that we care about.
Another big red flag to look out for is the use of “I”. No one likes when people babble on about themselves. So, I have a rule to try to use the word “I” as little as possible. My goal is to use “I” zero times in a conversations. Sometimes it’s unavoidable when people start asking about yourself. But most times you can get your point across in a conversation by framing it as a question. This is my #1 rule when it comes to talking to someone you’re especially trying to impress like a co-worker, friend you admire, or girl/boy that you’re trying to chase. Limit the use of “I” and reframe it as a question instead. It’ll show that you care about the other’s opinion while still getting your point across. Whenever you’re asking questions like this, almost always you’ll get questions asked back to you resulting in a proper conversation of give and take.
The last thing to look out for is the interruptions. Whatever you do, do not interrupt someone when you are having a casual conversation. Do not interrupt or finish someone else’s sentence. It not only is rude, but it also throws a wrench in the flow of the conversation. Waiting until the person finishes their conversation will show that you care and are listening and your talking companion will appreciate that. You may feel like there’s a certain topic you want to cover and blurt out. Leave it alone. The conversation is the boss and chances are it will push in that direction anyways. And if not, then use that as an opportunity to frame your next point as a question and move the conversation along that way. Either way, do not interrupt. It will make your talking companion feel rushed and not effectively communicate his or her thoughts to your properly.
Be mindful of your tones in your casual conversations. People will want to be around you and talk to you more and you will get better relationships from it. Watch out for the red flags that I listed above and be aware of your instinctive responses. When in doubt, wait until the point is finished then ask a question leading the conversation into a better direction. Be aware of the tone you use and where your voice is coming from as you could be saying one thing but coming off in a bad way depending on the tone you are using. Keep in mind there are some people that simply aren’t fun to talk to and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. They’ll either not stop talking about themselves or use a condescending tone. For people like this, just walk away. Chances are you’re not alone in your opinions. Go and have a better conversation with someone else. Good luck!