6 Rules of Polite Conversations

Klasse 2000 (www.klasse2000.de) is Germany’s largest educational program for health, addiction prevention and violence prevention. It takes place in elementary schools across the country.

Based on a widespread class sponsorship concept, it teaches 6-10 year olds about healthy diets, sports and exercise, self-acceptance and building friendships, critical thinking, saying no to drugs, and conflict resolution.

Communication and social skills can and should be taught. In order to be able to communicate respectfully and non-violently both within and outside the home, all we need is a couple of simple rules. Klasse 2000 has some suggestions I find extremely helpful.  I have tried to summarize them for your convenience.

Note: These rules also apply to parents! 😉 Education starts at home, so it would be great if your children could practice and see them in action there as well!

So here are 6 basic secrets of polite (and effective!) conversations:

1.  Timing

Timing, as they say, is everything.

When approaching someone to start a conversation, wait for the right moment. Make sure the person is available on a variety of levels and that possible “noise” factors are minimized.

When approached by someone to start a conversation, be honest about your availability. If you are busy and cannot talk/listen right then, politely postpone the conversation until later. ‘I apologize, I am really busy at the moment, but I will be all yours in 10 minutes.’ Name an exact time and keep it! Remember, you’ve created an expectation in the other person who has patiently respected your schedule and privacy – don’t cheat their expectations.

2.  Eye contact

Make eye contact with your desired interlocutor. Looking at the person is the polite thing to do because it makes them feel acknowledged. But it is also smart, because it can provide you with clues as to their real availability, position on the subject, emotional state, etc. Eye contact is vital for effective communication.

3.  Clarity

Try to be as articulate as you can about your idea/problem/wishes/concerns, speak clearly and calmly, use an adequate tone, pitch and speed.

4.  Patient and focused listening

Such a large chunk of effective communication is actually effective listening! Listen to the other person’s feedback, pick up important details, focus on your partner for a change. Allow them to get their opinion in as well – understanding how they think/feel is definitely in your best interest, too.

5.  Questions and clarifications

As an active listener, when something is unclear, feel free to ask questions, rephrase, ask for more details and information. (Again, wait for the right moment to intervene – constant interruption is both annoying and inconsiderate). Make sure you understand exactly what the other person is trying to say and avoid jumping to conclusions. Be truly interactive in your communication.

6.  Friendliness

Give praise where praise is due, add a sincere compliment, be kind, make people feel good (we’re going to talk about giving praise properly in another post, but ideally, praise a person’s actions). ‘How wonderful that you could come!’, ‘Good job!’, ‘That is a very nice painting you made!’ Even a simple “please” or “thank you” can work wonders.

Thank you for your interest and patience in reading this blog! 🙂


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