Naomi Simson’s 11 golden rules of conversation

By Naomi Simson

I was in a cafe in Argentina with my daughter a few weeks ago and on the front of the menu was a list of “the golden rules of conversation”. Now whilst it was quite amusing (see the picture below), I thought there must be a reason – even if it is just for the sake of conversation – that they chose to promote conversation.

Are we losing the art of conversation? Do many people communicate more by text than in person? Does anyone pick up the phone for a chat anymore?

The words we use define our reality – as do the conversations that we choose to have. Exploring ideas, shooting the breeze, revealing a story or anecdote are all part of the wonderful world of words.

I have taken the liberty of editing and embellishing the golden rules based on my own experience. They are all absolutely obvious but sometimes don’t you wish you had them at hand when you are wanting to engage in a conversation with a colleague, spouse or perhaps a teenager who seems caught up in his or her own world.

I love a great conversation – I love words.

The 11 golden rules of conversation

  1. Listen with intention (not waiting for the other person to finish so that you can speak)
  2. Put away all phones / devices from sight. Respect the person you are with
  3. Don’t dominate the conversation – it is a team sport
  4. Speak of things that are interesting – and be interested
  5. Use your facial muscles to acknowledge what you have heard, frequently – perhaps even smile
  6. Don’t change the topic every sentence and let the discussion evolve. Dance in the conversation
  7. Ask questions about the other person, his or her interests or ideas, rather than speaking about yourself
  8. Don’t ask a question of the other person thinking that will cover off what they want just so you can spend the rest of the time talking about yourself
  9. Respect different view points and opinions – there is no ‘right’ in a conversation
  10. Be authentic
  11. Use positive words and don’t slip into ‘gossip’

Okay so I might well sound like I’m from another century (oh that’s right I am)…

One of the greatest things in life is our ability to connect and communicate with others of our species, whether that is at work, home or in the community. Conversation, language and words give us the richness of our existence; conversation is as much about listening as it is about contribution.

Ask yourself when was the last time that you had a ‘deep and meaningful’ conversation that left you touched, moved and inspired. Perhaps that is your ‘one thing’ for today. Have a great conversation that will leave you feeling connected with the other person or people involved and guess what – it is going to need to happen in person. It’s the way we humans work.

Naomi Simson is the founding director of Australian online tech success story RedBalloon and Redii. She has written more than 1000 blog posts at, is a professional speaker, author of Live What You Love,andReady to Soar and is one of five “Sharks” on TEN’s business reality show Shark Tank to return in 2016.

This article was originally published on SmartCompany

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