The art of conversation has a lot to do with the success of relationships.  While it is true that conversation and “the gift of gab” seem to come more easily for some than for others, a good listener is often the deciding factor in an effective conversation.  It can be difficult to get a conversation started, but avoiding what gets in the way can make it easier.

Enemy number one of good communication is not paying attention.  Not being in the moment and just not fully being there results in one person talking at another.  Trying to have a conversation with someone who is texting to another person is an example.  Trying to have a conversation with someone who is watching their favorite TV show is another type of non-communication.  Being preoccupied is the opposite of being in the moment, which is where communication begins.

Enemy number two of good communication is not being a good listener.  Someone who is just waiting to jump into the conversation at the first sign of a pause or a breath is not really listening to what is being said.  Thinking of the next thing one wants to say is not the same as engaging in the give and take of communicating. This results in a string of mostly non sequiturs.

Enemy number three of good communication is pre-set hostility or a closed mind.  Anger at another person automatically sets us up to negate whatever that person says, mostly because it is they who are saying it.  This often results in an argument.

Enemy number four can be profanity, drama and volume in tone that distract from the thought and are directed toward arousing emotion.  Not infrequently in family or couple’s therapy, backing up to the rules of polite engagement finally makes a discussion possible.

Enemy number five of good communication is a lack of empathy, or kindness.  Probing questions and not taking time to think of where another is coming from create discomfort and bring about a shut down in conversation.  When conversations do not seem safe, it is no wonder that in families there can be one-sided silence when sensitive or painful issues are being discussed.

There are surely more than five problems in conversation, but these are good starting points for consideration.  Even when conversation may seem like “small talk,” it marks the willingness to acknowledge another person and to open to the possibility of connection.