Have We Lost the Art of Conversation?

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While recently visiting a local school, I had the opportunity of chatting with a variety of high school DECA members. During breakfast mingle time I approached several student groups to politely ask, “May I join you?” I had high hopes of meeting new students and finding out more about them and their world.

The first group hesitantly responded with, “Sure?” and then stood in silence. I then asked, “How did you all decide to join this club? I would love to hear!” After repeated conversation attempts were met with brief answers and then silence, I kindly said goodbye and moved onto another group.

Thankfully, the second group had an entirely different response to the same question! They responded by making eye contact, extending their hand in greeting, answering my questions and returning the favor with sincere interest.

Have you ever experienced the same result when talking to children or youth? With the rise of technical devices and the decline of family and community time, many have realized that young people no longer know how to carry on a conversation. Here are a few tips that any child, regardless of age, can practice at home to become a better conversationalist:

  1. Always respond to questions by looking the speaker in the eye, speaking clearly, and answering appropriately.
  2. Treat conversations like a game of catch. Be careful not to drop the ball by not answering or failing to ask a question or make a comment in return!
  3. Freely welcome others into a conversation by giving a brief recap of the discussion subject.   
  4. Exit a conversation with a friendly goodbye and a kind comment about meeting your discussion partner.

Bethany Miller is the founder and director of Doors of Success School of Etiquette. A graduate of the prestigious American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Georgia and licensed by the renowned Protocol School of Washington, Ms. Miller is a teacher passionately seeking to encourage a revival of kindness and politeness in American society. For more etiquette tips, check out her course offerings and follow Doors of Success on Facebook!

Image Credit: Technology Tell