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Conversational Generosity January 6, 2013

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Self-Development.
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I came across the term ‘’conversational generosity’ a few months ago and was sufficiently taken with it to write it down for a future blog post. As I sat down today to write this post, I came up short. Hmmmm—what is conversational generosity and why did I make a note of it? After drawing a blank for a few minutes, I remembered that I liked it because it goes along with another concept I like, “generous listening.”

Since my area of interest and coaching is relationships, it stands to reason that I would value both listening and communicating.My teacher was often quoted as saying that ‘listening is all there is” when it comes to building a relationship with another.

My definition of conversational generosity is pretty simple really.To me a good conversation has to be just that—a conversation. Ever had a ‘conversation’ with someone who asked you nothing about yourself and simply waited for you to stop talking so that he could begin to speak again? That’s the opposite of conversational generosity.

Here are my definitions of the term:

  • Both people have the intention that the conversation should be of value to each person
  • There is a sincere interest in knowing what is important to the other and this is demonstrated by asking pertinent questions when appropriate. Listening without interruptions also goes a long way. Turn off the cell phone and turn away from the computer screen.
  • There is sharing that is appropriate to the size of the bowl of relationship. I’m sure you’ve been involved in conversations in which the other person provided wayyyyy too much information. Or perhaps in other circumstances where the other was very cagey about how much information was disclosed. However, when it’s just right, both parties feel that they have deepened the relationship by engaging in the conversation.
  • The person who most needs to have the floor and to be heard is the one who gets more ‘air time.’ Some people by virtue of their personality take more air time. However, at times we all need to realize that someone else may need to be heard and the most appropriate thing to do is to close our mouths and listen. There is a coaching tenet that I was taught as a new coach. It is WAIT. Why Am I Talking? It’s good advice not only for coaches but for anyone who wishes have a meaningful conversation with another person.

This week I plan to indulge my love of good conversation—especially since I’ve got a week filled with my favorite clients. I plan to be just as generous as I know how and see what develops.

You?

—Amara

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