The petite woman in her eighties got into the car and sat next to me. Although I did not know her, 30 minutes later, when we arrived at a family wedding in Atlanta, Georgia, I turned to her and said, “I hope we are seated at the same table.” To which she replied, “What a lovely compliment.” Why did I hope to sit by her? Because this lovely woman, wise in years, had mastered the art of being a great conversationalist after 50. Have you?
What was it about her presence that drew me to her? How did this woman, well after 50, have so much charisma? Why was she so VISIBLE?
Her son, the driver, helped her into the back seat of the car. She was very petite, wore flat silver ballet slippers which I would later discover was her shoe of choice due to Parkinson’s disease. She wore a jeweled dress and carried a handbag and a beautiful Lucite cane. We were in such close proximity that we were touching elbows… because my husband was seated next to me, of course!
She immediately turned to me with her breathtaking smile and twinkling eyes that could have lit up the sky and, in a warm southern manner, she invited me into her life. She was charming, and so, I entered her world with pleasure.
I looked at her, smiled back and said, “I feel like I have known you forever. I love your dress and handbag.”
She responded, “And I love your entire look, especially your neckpiece.”
I said laughingly, “We like the same look, don’t we? We are very girly women, aren’t we?” She laughed and agreed.
We talked non-stop. I asked if she was a computer friendly. “Of course,” she replied with that twinkle in her eye. “I am online all day watching the news channels, not HBO. I want to keep up with what is going on around me.”
She told me she belonged to a group of women who wrote vignettes for nursing homes, retirement homes, young people, etc. They were serious, yet humorous and she loved writing.
At the wedding, she made sure she introduced me to her three sons and two daughters-in-law. She shared the story of the other daughter-in-law who was divorced from her son. She was open. It was refreshing.
At the end of the evening, we exchanged emails. I will e-mail her later today.
How To Be A Great Conversationalist After 50
- She ingratiated herself. Great conversationalists enjoy giving compliments. I think this is because they come from a place of strength where another’s positive attributes do not diminish their own. This confidence is an essential element in making friends.
- She was visible. She smiled, and her eyes sparkled. Great conversationalists invite you in with their manner. They share their lives.
- She listened. Great conversationalists are great listeners. It is not about them; it is about you. This is so appealing to us, isn’t it darlings? When someone stops the world and just listens to what we say. We’ll have to teach our husbands this trick. (Kidding!)
- She kept up with current issues; she was relevant. Great conversationalists can question, present facts and offer ideas.
- She was funny. Great conversationalists are lighthearted, witty and can make you laugh.
- She enjoys your company. Great conversationalists are natural. You feel they want to be with you.
This little vignette would be a wonderful teaching tool for your grands. Good speaking skills are a key to happiness and success.
On a side note, people who DARE to invite others into their hearts risk everything and often win even more! Do you recall my story about meeting Sheldon Good on a blind date when I could have been scared to love again?
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