what i learnt this week 2017 :: WEEK 23

I don’t have much trouble starting and maintaining a conversation but I do know this is a challenge for many. Even I get stumped occasionally.

I recently heard about an interesting technique that sounds like an automobile but it makes a lot of sense. FORD is an acronym to help people come up with discussion points when social interaction becomes difficult…

FAMILY: Most people have a family of some kind… you can ask someone if they have any siblings? Where they grew up? Do they have children?
Take a moment to listen, focus on their answers and ask more questions.

OCCUPATION: While I try not to sound materialistic when I ask this, what we do for a living is a huge part of who we are. Ask them what they do for work? If they enjoy what they do? What would they love to do if they had the chance?
This can open up many lines of discussion and you might find some common interests to discuss.

RECREATION: Who doesn’t love a good recreational activity! What are their hobbies? Great passions? Deepest creative desires? If they haven’t pursued any of their passions, when are they planning to start?
Recreation can be a huge passion point for people and it can really get the conversation rolling.

DREAMS: Do you have a bucket list? What is on your bucket list? When will you start ticking things off? Ask them if they could do anything, what would it be? What did they dream of when they were a child that they still haven’t done.
You never know, by having this discussion they might actually start planning their own dream fulfilment. Also, you might find that you have some dreams in common.
For each of these points, the key is to listen. If you listen to their answer then you will know what to talk about next. Too often people talk and don’t listen. You’ve got two ears and one mouth so try to use them accordingly… it makes for better conversation.
So, the next time you’re stuck in a going nowhere conversation, remember FORD and see for yourself how these simple talking points can bring us all a bit closer to understanding each other.

what i learnt this week 2016 :: WEEK 8


Have you noticed that nobody is listening? You probably haven’t, as you’re too busy talking.

There has been a fundamental shift in our collective attention spans as we are constantly bombarded with images, text and sounds from every angle. There are so many things competing for our attention that we have forgotten how to have a conversation.


Notice in use of the world ‘exchanged’ in the definition of conversation. It indicates that the talking is two way… not a monologue.

I have partaken in a lot of monologues lately and I’m not the one doing all the monologuing. I keep getting talked at more and more. I have finished 3o minute phone calls and realised that I contributed nothing (not for lack of trying). I have caught up with friends to only later realise that after the compulsory ‘how are you going’ greeting there was no discussion of my life, my dreams, my views or me. . Am I doing something wrong? Are people using mates as free therapy? Can we please go back to a two-way discussion?

The next time you have a chat with someone just sit back and observe what is going on. Are you overrunning the conversation and not letting anyone else chime in? Or are not getting a word in? Whichever one you are, something has to change.

Maybe you could be direct and let your friends or family know that you desire conversation and not to be talked at. Or maybe you can make a point of stopping your mouth for a moment and letting someone else fill the space with noise. There is a lot to be gained from good conversation. We can learn from our friend’s points of view… even if we don’t agree with them.

Try to have a conversation today… an exchange of ideas. You might enjoy it!

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what i learnt this week :: WEEK 24

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I think we are ALL guilty of this one. I know I am.

We are all so busy and have so many things vying for our attention that conversation is often sacrificed in the name of efficiency. So often when someone comes to tell us a story, the latest news or a fascinating fact they’ve just discovered, we shoot them down with ‘I know’.

I worked with a girl once who did this ALL THE TIME. It really drove me nuts. It wouldn’t matter what I said… it could have made something up and she would swat me down with an ‘I know’.

I really started to notice this a lot in others and in the last few weeks I’ve found that I do it myself. So what are you really saying when you dismiss someone with an ‘I know’? Surely you don’t know EVERYTHING. No one can. Often it’s used before a sentence is even completed. You’re saying, “shut up”, “I don’t care about what you have to say” or maybe “What makes you think you know more than I do”.

We often think we know enough about a topic. You may know the headlines but do you really know everything? No you don’t. You could learn something new, get some insight into a philosophy or gain an understanding of something you’ve never allowed yourself to consider before. So try to open your mind, close your mouth and listen… you never know what you might learn.

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