Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Michelle Kaplan
"The New York Radio Girl"

Have you ever been a part of a conversation in English where somebody shared their experiences?

Have you heard people express their opinion on something and then explain why they felt the way that they did about it?

Today we’re looking at how you can share your experiences in conversation, and what it can add to what you are saying.

This is a great addition and way of showing relevance and credibility, for it helps people to understand why you feel the way that you do.

This is an important conversation skill, and therefore it’s something you want to understand and utilize as it can help you to be more interesting and relatable.

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Why Might We Share Our Experiences In Conversation?

How often do you share stories when you are explaining your opinion?

When you are having group conversations about important topics, you may find that you generally dip into your own experiences to participate.

You may even focus on the experiences we have heard of from outside and other conversations, and then use those to express your opinion.

Why is that?

Why do we behave in this manner?

What is it about sharing these sort of experiences that makes things somehow more credible?

  • It shows evidence: It provides some sort of credibility when you offer up examples. It shows that you have evidence of the subject matter, and therefore are somebody that people can believe. You have something credible and you have experienced this, and therefore it adds to your portion of the conversation.
  • It helps you to relate to others: This is a really important distinction and it helps you tremendously with making connections. When you have examples to offer, you are relatable. You can relate to others and more importantly, others feel as though they can relate to you. This is a really great thing for conversation and for making lasting connections!
  • This makes it more interesting than saying “I agree” or “I disagree”: When you have something to put behind the statement, it makes you more relatable. It makes your part of the conversation more interesting and it causes you to feel engaged. It also ensures that people want to hear what you have to say because you have something more to say than you agree or disagree. This is all a really positive thing and adds to what you have to contribute to the conversation. This is not only about listening, but it’s also about speaking.

You may find that as a student you hold back sometimes in conversations, as we see that happen to others like you all the time.

You may feel compelled to just say a simple yes or no to something, but really you want to contribute more.

You want to be sure to start listening for why people feel the way they do, and you also want to be able to express that yourself.

This is an important conversation skill, and it ultimately helps you to be an active participant in what’s going on around you.

An Example To Show How This Works

We’re going to look at this like a sort of role play to help you to see how this works and why sharing experiences can be beneficial.

On the show we listened to a clip from a fast group conversation through the Conversations and Coffee show.

This deals with connecting personal stories to opinions, and it’s an important conversational skill.

How do we get there?

How do we make this work?

A great strategy to use here is when you are in a conversation where opinions are being expressed, closely listen for WHY people feel the way they do.

This matters greatly because then you can understand the reasoning behind it.

Also be sure to listen for two simple things which can help you to focus on the right things.

1. This person feels X, which you can gather from conversation and the way in which they express themselves. You can really pick up on how somebody feels and this shows through even more if they go in depth with their experiences.

2. Why does this person feel this way? You want to ask yourself this because there must be something behind this. There must be some compelling reason to explain why they feel the way that they do. You want to identify that or at least try to gain some insight as to the why.

In this clip Lindsay expresses her feelings on people asking permission of parents to get engaged.

Lindsay: I think it’s a nice, I think it’s important, right? Because I do have a friend whose sister, her husband did not ask her sister’s dad and that created a sense of animosity right from the beginning. [Crosstalk 00:02:11] They did get married and they’re not a traditional family at all but it was a sign of disrespect to the father and that set them on, not a great path. I mean, they’re okay but there’s definitely a constant, like, lack of respect or something between them. So, I, I would definitely err on the side of just do, just do it. Because it’s what’s going to set you up with your in-laws in a good, in a good way and that’s the important thing in my mind.

You can see from this clip how it works as Lindsay offers an experience about the subject matter.

When you have experience in a given area, it can be really helpful to offer it up or add this to the conversation—you can now see how that works from this example.

Analyzing and Breaking This Apart

So you have this example to show how offering examples can offer a credible and relatable aspect to your conversations.

Let’s take it apart a bit so that you can break down what goes on in the example to make this work, and then you can determine how to use this in your own conversations.

Lindsay spoke about in the order of her quick opinion—then it moved to an explanation—and then it moved to her full opinion.

That’s a typical breakdown of how this works and how it can all come together when you offer experience into the conversation.

This is ultimately a very typical way to offer your opinion to others when you are talking to them, so let’s look at this by parts.

First–Lindsay said she thinks it’s nice—this is where you would use words and expressions like “I think” Second -Lindsay shared the story—she said “because I do have a friend…” (another topic- we can analyze on the spot if we want- who are you talking about? Friend’s sister’s husband…)

Second–Lindsay stated what happened and the overall conclusion—she highlighted that it caused trouble with in laws

Third– Lindsay gave her full opinion “so, I would definitely…because..”- this is like the concluding statement “and that’s the important thing in my mind.” This all helps to round it out and explains why she has the opinion that she does.

Key words that are used here in these examples include things like “so””, because”, and “I think.”

Remember the strategy asked you at the beginning where you focus on two different things can be used here perfectly.

This is what you need to understand overall to help you to take something out of the example and the conversation as a whole.

1)This person feels X: Lindsay feels it’s good to ask permission

2)Why does she feel this way? Her friend had a negative experience that had long term repercussions

For speaking practice, consider telling a story where you share your opinion and use a background story to shape that opinion.

Try the format Lindsay did, as you will find that it can work quite well.

Takeaway

It’s not enough to agree or disagree, and you want to have something behind your statements.

You have to give more to fill the space ,and this comes from the experiences that you can share.

It’s important to practice listening for why people feel the way they do.

It’s also important to understand how to structure your response and share more information overall.

We can do a follow up where we talk in depth about sharing our opinions, and talk more about listening.

Give this a try in your next conversation, and remember to get in on Conversations and Coffee for more practice!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.  

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