Conversational Culture (reform)

You’ve likely heard -through the energy you put out via your behavior, thoughts and words, you are creating your experiences.

Your words carry weight. They inform listeners about the way that you think and profoundly contribute to your self-presentation. We pick up different ways of speaking, influenced by our environment. For example, have you noticed that you might start using the same phrases that your friends do? If you’ve spent a significant amount of time in a different part of the world, you may have adopted the accent, intonation and slang used by the locals, into your speech.

Speech patterns are contagious

Language is often used as social capital- we become aware of how different accents/ pronunciations and words are perceived within a culture, and adapt our lexical patterns accordingly. It’s a way of demonstrating and/or establishing prestige. Pay attention to how the presence of different people impacts what you do and say. Social influence can induce strong (and sometimes unsettling) conformity.

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Each social group establishes its own culture.

What characterizes the culture in your social circles? -what do you talk about when you’re together? Is the content of conversations usually positive, encouraging and uplifting?  judgmental, sarcastic and deprecating?

How do you feel after being around the people you hang out with?

Having conversation imbued with discussion and judgment of others (namely people not involved in the conversation) does not nurture intimacy. Intimacy is facilitated through building trust.

A tweet I once saw on twitter- May we be so busy improving ourselves that we have no time to point out the faults of others.

Use your social time to talk about what’s going well in your life, what you want to create in your life, what you’re passionate and excited about. That’s authentic and productive, and when you talk about what’s going well, and what you wish for, you’re more likely to create and sustain gratitude, joy and more abundance and success.

Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston, is the author of one of my favorite books- “Daring Greatly-How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead.” I just bought every copy that my local bookstore had in stock to give to family and friends. It’s remarkable.

In this talk (<– link) , Brené discusses the characterization of trust and brings up this point- When people talk about other people, you can’t trust them to not do the same to you.  I highly recommend watching it until the end. (She also refers to Dr. John Gottman’s work – He is the greatest relationship researcher I know of. I participated in one of his clinical trainings earlier this year)

Be intentional about what you speak about and notice how you feel in the moment and after. 

I thought about this just last week-  catching up with friends doesn’t have to involve filling each other in on everything that’s happened since you last spoke/met. Do you sometimes feel like after some experience you’ve had, you’re serially retelling the story? Why give energy to what’s already past, especially when it was an experience you didn’t enjoy? Repeatedly talking about it keeps it relevant in your life. Instead, you can try talking about what’s exciting and fulfilling in your life- perhaps what you’re learning, what you value, what your goals are, how you can work on a fulfilling project together…

Tell the story of what you DO want.

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Of course, you may want to discuss something that’s on your mind with a select person/ few people who you trust, and who you think will help guide you through what you’re going through, sans judgment. If the experience calls for professional consultation/help, seek it.  There’s power, courage and investment in doing so.

Every relationship with every person you encounter in your life can teach you something about yourself. How did something someone said or did make you feel?  Your (internal) reaction to anything around you can elucidate your values. Did you respect something that someone did?- his/her behavior was probably a demonstration of a value you have. The opposite feeling holds true too.

The people that you surround yourself with have a great influence on you. Relationships with different people can be beneficial in unique ways. One friend can be your go-to for a certain kind of advice, another you can count on to make you cheer up, laugh and feel light.

Being selective about who you affiliate with is a marker of self-respect. 

 

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