Mastering the Art of Holiday Communication

One of the hardest times of year to communicate well with others is at the end of the year and the beginning of the next. We find ourselves in a busy speed zone where we are moving from one thing to the next. One thing that suffers the most is excellent engagement and communication with people at parties, gatherings, and just out and about. Here are 10 tips to help make your art of conversation better as you celebrate the busy holidays.
1.    Be approachable. The more you communicate with people, the more likely they are to see you as someone who is friendly, approachable, and willing to answer questions and give instructions. Smile and look like you want people to talk with you.
2.    First impressions always matter. Make your interest known during the first conversation by giving your undivided attention. Respond to people with a nod and a smile, and maybe even send them a text thanking them for chatting. People want to be noticed. They need to know that they aren’t just a number or an object.
3.  Keep the conversation moving. To the degree that you are able, when a friend or church member appears to be lagging behind in the conversation, give them a call out and ask, “I noticed that you’re drifting in our conversation. Is everything okay?” Always try to interact with your conversation by asking if they understand what you’ve said, perhaps, ask, “Does that make sense?”. This is a great way to keep the conversation moving.
4.    Speak accurately. At parties, people tend to exaggerate and overdramatize. Die to the moment and hype, and stay level headed. Do not try to impress people with your accomplishments. Talk about them and be a great listener. Avoid talking about you unless they ask you questions. And if they do, try to avoid terse responses. When you wrap up the conversation, thank the listener for the talking and letting you learn more about them.
5.    Master the art of productive conversation. Many times, I’ve spoken with people, and there have been plenty of rabbits let loose to chase on their part. Bringing them back to the “productive” section of the conversation is always important. It’s okay to say, for instance, “Let’s go back to what we were initially talking about for just a minute. I’d like to revisit that to understand better.”
6.    Value peoples’ time as much as your own. Many people are sacrificing time with family, work hours, or personal time to meet. I like to have a clear point in mind when I meet with someone and a clear win accomplished when I leave the conversation. If I feel as if the person is not interested or focused, I listen to that and say something like, “Great talking with you, and I hope we can catch up soon in a more focused environment.”
7.    Acknowledge peoples’ concerns. The holiday season is not merry for everyone, so engaging in their pain matters. Be genuine and ask them is there anything you can do to help them during this time. Make sure that you mean it when you say it and not just say it just for generalities. I would also follow up with an email or text from the conversation to show concern and care.
8.    Always thank people for speaking with or connecting with you. If a person has engaged in conversation with you, let them know you appreciate them being proactive and engaging with you. If the person takes your call, thank them for taking the time to speak with you.
9.    Carry business cards. After a substantial conversation, I usually give someone my business card after thanking them. I tell them to reach out if they would like to stay connected. Giving someone a business card lets them know they are important to you and gives them access to contact you if they need anything. This shows excellent people skills.
10. Take a pic and post. One of the great inventions in the past decade has been the smartphone. When you are at a party or a meeting and the conversation went well, just say, “Can we take a picture and post it.” You can tag the person, with their permission, as a way of communicating that you really enjoyed talking or hanging out with them. You can post something like, “We had a great conversation about leadership/church life,” or whatever fits the moment. This builds camaraderie and friendships that last.
Meaningful communication is the key to a meaningful connection. Apply a few of these in your life and watch great things happen in your relationships.

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