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Rules of conversation: tips for successful communication

Whether at school, in a club, at a coffee party or at work: Whenever we get together with several people, we meet different characters and behaviors. They can turn some communication into a challenge: Not everyone manages to withdraw, others find it difficult to stand up for themselves. So that everything does not end in chaos, it is important to stick to certain Rules of conversation to keep. In the event of a conflict, this can smooth things over and, communicated in good time, even prevent conflicts. Which rules of conversation these are and how you apply them ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Rules of conversation Communication: Everyone communicates somehow

you can not communicate - Almost everyone knows this most famous saying by the Austrian-American communication scientist Paul Watzlawick. Every communication is also Part of the behaviorwhether we say nothing or how we say something.

How we use our voice, how we do it work with facial expressions and gestures, all of this contributes to - in the best case, successful - communication. A raised eyebrow can already turn a conversation around.

Not all communication runs smoothly, various communication models have already tried to find out why some conversations work well, others - even with mutual sympathy - rather bad.

Friedemann Schultz von Thun's communication model is one of the best known. He postulates that each message four sides contains: a factual level, a relationship level, a self-disclosure level and an appeal level.

The problem is that not all speakers are aware of these levels and therefore cannot react appropriately to them. Rules of conversation can help with this To perceive levelsas the participants pay more attention to the matter.

We unconsciously follow many rules of conversation because we already have them learned at school or at home to have. Others are worth remembering because they have already been forgotten or never conveyed.

In brief: Rules of conversation to go

  • Everyone gives advice only when requested.
  • Everyone is just trying to speak for themselves.
  • Everyone lets the other finish.
  • Everyone is as brief as possible.
  • Everyone registers a need to speak.
  • Everyone is polite and fair.
  • Everyone formulates in I-messages.
  • Everyone has a say, not about people present.
  • Everyone listens and only speaks when they have the floor.
  • Everyone avoids insults or insinuations.
  • Everyone respects each other's opinions.
  • Everyone justifies their opinion.

Conversation Rules Discussion: Groups are challenging

Larger groups follow different rules than, for example, one-to-one conversations. Run it group dynamic processes starting, for example, that certain positions (leader, expert, member) emerge. These positions already require certain conversational behavior.

A certain group dynamic is on the one hand completely normal, on the other hand, depending on the personality of the participants, it can lead to certain points being lost in a conversation.

Clear rules of conversation ensure that a certain balance This creates an exchange in which all participants feel valued. This promotes openness and affects the results.

So that nobody feels left out, it makes sense to formulate the rules of conversation together and set them down in writing. A smartboard or a flipchart is conceivable here, so that the rules of conversation are also visible in the course of the conversation.

That makes it easier Reference to the rulesif it becomes apparent that some participants are ignoring them. Basically, it should be clear that all discussion rules apply to all participants, without exception and regardless of hierarchy.

Rules of conversation for adults: rules for successful communication

Rules of conversation as such, but also the work on them, is to a certain extent lived democracy, because the free expression and the possibility of participation is anchored in the Basic Law. It is important to realize that mistakes can easily be made in communication.

Unresolved conflicts, wrong expectations or current difficulties flow into the communication. Fixed rules of conversation contribute to your own Reflect behavior and adopt a self-critical attitude. How this can work:

  • Do not give unsolicited advice.

    Depending on the situation and person, unsolicited advice can provoke defiant reactions. They may have the best of intentions, but quite a few people feel patronized and not taken seriously enough when they receive unsolicited feedback. One possibility as a rule of thumb would be to ask the other person: Would you like to hear my opinion on this? A few thoughts spontaneously occur to me - would you like to know what another possibility would look like?

  • Do not infer the general public by yourself.

    It's just a tiny word, but it has an adverse effect: man. For one thing, you and your personal point of view disappear behind this word. Discussions are not about showing off the egocentric, but you don't have to hide either. On the other hand, formulations with "man" make everything sound like irrefutable laws: One finds this and that bad - is that so? Does that really apply to everyone, or does it apply to you personally? Observe how often you or other people unnecessarily replace “I” with “man” and how that affects you.

  • Let other people finish speaking.

    Probably the most important rule of conversation is not to interrupt other people immediately, but to let them finish speaking. This is not always easy, especially when a statement is made that makes you feel directly attacked. Nevertheless, it is important that other people get the chance to express their point of view - not everyone can express themselves in an incredibly pointed and polished manner. Some critical passages are cleared up on their own when the other person had the opportunity to complete his sentence.

  • Avoid monologues.

    Some people tend to monologue. This is not necessarily malice, but sometimes a lack of precision. Do better by trying to focus on the core message and not get lost in sidelines. In this way you give other people the opportunity to contribute something on the topic or to ask questions. You also prevent the other person from showing signs of fatigue.

  • Book speech needs.

    Even if you are no longer at school and do not have to point your finger: register when you need to speak. Perhaps the colleague accidentally used the slide from the previous year in the meeting and gave the wrong numbers? Before new errors develop on the basis of incorrect assumptions, it can make sense to intervene early on. Nevertheless, do this with the greatest possible respect: Mr Müller, if I may interrupt you briefly, it seems to me that data from the previous year was used here ...

  • Make personal statements instead of asking.

    Questions, especially questions of understanding, are absolutely justified in discussions. A rule of thumb should be to only use questions for this purpose and not to express hidden criticism. Rhetorical questions or packaged accusations are not included, a negative example: Have you ever thought about the effort that this entails? Questions like this lead others to hear and can appear condescending. You want to avoid that, so you should rather give direct feedback on the content: I could imagine that based on our experience from last year, the effort will be very large. Last year we were already under staffed, so one possibility would be ...

  • Send me messages.

    A classic among the rules of conversation is that you send so-called I-messages: I have observed that people tend to forget to refill the copier with toner. I-messages have the great advantage that your counterpart does not immediately feel attacked when you formulate something critical. You messages are automatically accusatory and easily lead to your interlocutor going into defense. In the worst case, the fronts harden. The icing on the cake is a combination of “always”, “always” or “never” - so a conversation can only go bad. Another rule of conversation here should be to avoid these words if possible.

  • Talk to others directly.

    You should include colleagues who are present in the conversation. You can do this by speaking to them, not about them. Negative example: Mr Schneider is of the opinion that nothing will be done before the end of the year. Better: Mr. Schneider, as I understood you earlier, you also see the time frame ...

  • Only speak when you have the floor.

    This conversation rule is actually a matter of course, but sometimes it is also in meetings like in kindergarten: If possible, only one person should speak at the same time. There are several reasons for this: On the one hand, it is rude to whoever has the floor. On the other hand, a mess makes it difficult to understand and focus on the other person. Third, what you or someone else has to say may also be important for the rest of the group. But if everyone speaks at the same time, that goes under.

  • Practice consideration.

    Each group has participants who tend to want to contribute more and others who are significantly more reluctant. Observe the person you are talking to, are there any indications that someone would like to say something but do not dare to say something? A rule of the conversation is to show consideration, to withdraw yourself at one point or another and to encourage others so that they also have the opportunity to express themselves.

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December 7, 2020Author: Jochen Mai

Jochen Mai is the founder and editor-in-chief of the career bible. The author of several books lectures at the TH Köln and is a sought-after keynote speaker, coach and consultant.

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