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As a woman who has lived through many passages and learned through my larger than life experiences (positive and negative), I’ve discovered how to take a big empowering bite out of life.

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The Rules of GOOD Conversation From The Modern Matriarch

Honey looking out of her office window

Looking for the rules of conversation? Take it from me, your Modern Matriarch, these are some “Good” tips.

*Affiliate Disclosure

When it comes to the rules of conversation, all of us, darlings, have had a myriad of discussions, playing on all of our emotions.

Conversation is what makes and breaks relationships. Though we are women over 50, we can continue to learn the rules of good conversation.

I could write a book filled with stories of conversations that tap into every type of emotion.  Here are two stories that will put you in a happy mood.

How following the rules of “Good” conversation helped me clean up my act!

Years back, I thought I was interviewing a prospective housekeeper. It turned out that she interviewed me. She entered our conversation with topic readiness. Here’s what happened…

It was a beautiful sunny day in Honolulu. The trade winds were softly blowing through our home. I opened the door smiling and saw this middle-aged woman in a white uniform with white shoes smiling back at me. I liked her instantly. It was the twinkle in her eye.

I invited her into my kitchen. We sat across from one another sipping iced tea. Before I could open my mouth to interview Edie, she jumped in and began to question me. Because she was older, and I gave her the floor.

She began by saying, “There are certain things I need if I accept this position as your housekeeper.”

I stared at her, quite amused. She held me captive with her big smile and twinkling blue eyes and all I could say was, “Okay.”

She went on, “I will only work for a woman under certain circumstances.”

“What are they?” I questioned.

“Do you have an Electrolux?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Do you have Parson’s ammonia?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“Do you have white distilled vinegar?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Are you Jewish?” she asked.

I could not believe what I was hearing. I loved this woman! “Yes,” I answered, laughing.

“You passed,” she said. “When can I start?” she asked.

Edie became part of our family and helped me, for years, until her knees finally gave out.

Her words exposed her openness and sense of humor. Fabulous qualities, darlings.

A “Good” conversation between my husband, our friend and me…

The three of us were at the driving range of a golf course. My husband and our friend were hitting golf balls. I was an observer, sitting on the grass within walking distance.

Our friend said to me, “Why aren’t you hitting golf balls?”

“I had surgery a few weeks ago and can’t play golf for a month,” I replied.

He asked, “Did you go to Northwestern?”

I looked at him, bewildered and replied, “No, I went to Wisconsin.”

He looked at me bewildered.

My husband said, “Suzi, he wants to know what hospital you were in, not what college you attended.”

We all laughed so hard.

This short conversation is indicative of how words get lost in translation.

My problem area…

Unfortunately, we cannot always turn on a switch and program our conversations. We are all vulnerable in some area.

I do not like emotional confrontation as I am not quick on my feet. I am not a one-upper type of woman. Instead, I prefer to walk away. In a sense that is a good solution. In another sense, if the person means a lot to me nothing is solved by walking away.

This is how I solved my problem with “Good” conversation:

First, I ask the person to tell me what is bothering her. I listen and validate her feelings. I am good at that.  If I cannot think of the right words to express my feelings, I end the conversation, by telling the person, “I need time to think about this.”

This gives me time to digest my thoughts quietly.

If I cannot find a solution to the situation, you know my saying darlings, DELETE.

The Do’s and Don’ts of GOOD Conversation: The Rules of Conversation

Conversation is supposed to be flowing. Where you know the right thing to say and make it sound effortless. For many women this is difficult. They feel anxious and even stressed and though they want to enjoy GOOD conversation, they can’t.

They can’t seem to take the conversation beyond small talk and for many different reasons they struggle.

I have learned over the years that conversation is a skill.

We can all learn to converse at a luncheon with strangers or win us new friends and even end conflicts within our family if we use these DOs…

Do: Listen before you speak. First and foremost, show your warmth by your interest. Do not be a conversational narcissist. It is funny but true; the real art of good conversation is not in talking, but in listening. Why? Because people like to talk about themselves and you get a glimpse of their personality.

Do: Take turns. Conversation is a two-way street. Tidbits here and there. No monologues, please.

Do: Adapt your conversation to your listener or listeners. For example, don’t talk about politics unless everyone is on the same page.

Don’t: Put your foot into your mouth. Don’t talk about how happy you are in your new relationship if the listener is going through a difficult divorce.

Don’t: Interrupt… this makes the other person feel irrelevant.

Don’t: Leave people out of the conversation. In other words, don’t get into a discussion with one person and ice the others out. Spread your eye contact around the table.

Don’t: Overshare your feelings. You want to leave people a bit intrigued. They will want to learn more and want to cultivate a relationship.

I enjoy opening my conversations with a compliment and a question. For example, “I just bought this new shade of Chanel lipstick, magic. I love your nail polish. It matches my lipstick. Might I ask the color?”

You shared, and hopefully, she will share and now… the conversation starts on a positive note.

The rules of good communication are very important. I have just touched the surface.

I will end my musings with three things that draw me to a person.

1.    Warmth.
2.    Openness
3.    Camaraderie. “We” both feel a bond.

Do you have a funny story that came about due to a miscommunication? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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April 2, 2024


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  1. Droma Natal Odrua says:

    Love this!!!

  2. Cathleen says:

    I visit my family once or twice a year. When there is a big group at the table some people do most of the talking, which is fine. After dinner, I am invisible. My family talks about their friends and activities in their town. I cannot join in. It takes 11 hours to drive to their city. Sometimes I get asked a couple of questions but the conversation ends quickly and I am invisible again. This hurts my feelings tremendously. What should I do?

    • Susan Good says:

      I have a friend who shared the same experience with me. She said, ” I know I am loved by my family but I feel invisible. She has a huge friendly and loving personality yet, still feels invisible. Unfortunately, this ‘seems’ to be life. Might you choose one or two members of your family to pull aside and have together time. I know it is up to us ‘older generation’ to make the first move. Multigenerational conversations can be great. Pick a topic you feel will interest them and engage. Warmly, Honey

  3. Joyce Ramsay says:

    I feel so sorry for young people as they have grown up with TVs, computers and mobile phones. We oldies had to talk to people face to face and before all this political correctness were teased for lisps, stutters, accents – oh, anything really. But we gave back and became tougher and actually made some friends. I am more often drawn to the quiet ones as they often have the most interesting stories. Can you get a dog? They don’t talk back, but they love every word you say.

  4. SoCal Allison says:

    This posting reminds me of the old adage that my mom always quoted: “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” She was also not a fan of bragging. One learns by what one is taught and by what one observes. She taught me well in her words and actions. I miss her dearly.

  5. Lynne Clarke says:

    A great reminder that listening is just as important, if not more so, than speaking.
    Thanks, Honey!

  6. Laura says:

    I am 26 and more than ever before I am feeling invisible in conversations with others. Over the last few months I’ve made some major life changes and also had some personal struggles which have affected my confidence. However, to some degree I’ve always felt socially awkward. I just find myself not knowing what to say so I just don’t say anything. Sometimes when I do contribute I mince my words or stutter. I feel that I have to rush through speaking because I’m so nervous.

    • Susan Good says:

      We all have times of personal struggles and major changes in our lives. You are not alone, dear Laura. Every woman has her personal moxie and that includes you. You may be silent but you have thoughts. One day when my daughter was young I asked her, “Why are you so quiet, Jenny.?” Her response was, “Mom, I do talk when I have something to say.” Think about all the women who gab all day long and say nothing. True. right? Next time you are out in a crowd express yourself only when you have something to say. Take a deep breath. Put your name on what you think. Be bold. Make a statement. Just say it properly. The more you interject your thought that you believe in the more confident you will become. I think it is lovely to have a quietness about oneself. This is one hint. Be a very good listener. Later in the conversation bring up what someone has said. That person will respect you for listening to her thoughts. xo Honey

  7. Kristy says:

    I love the insights here! The best is to let your eyes twinkle. This really shows interest in what others are saying. How true – if you show interest in someone, generally they will want to engage with you. Conversation is definitely an art. Thank you!

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