Hospitality is a joke without conversation (i.e. connection). Your floors can be sparkling, the windows shining, the aromas wafting, but if you don’t know how to connect with your guest . . . well, it’s a flop! Here are a few simple do’s and dont’s I’ve learned along the way:
- Listen! Listen not just because you want to look like a good listener; listen because you really want to understand where this person is coming from. If you have no desire to really understand them, ask God for that desire. Ask Him to give you insight into the other person so that you can better love, pray, and point them to Jesus and the Truth they need.
- Admit it when you aren’t listening. Then, ask them to repeat what they were saying. I say something like, “I’m so sorry! I just realized I tuned out, but I really am interested. Would you mind repeating what you just said?” (It’s more important to actually hear—even if it means humbling yourself—then to just nod your head ignorantly.)
- Tell them about yourself when they ask. If you’re like me, you feel more comfortable letting others talk, but often your transparency will help set the stage so others feel free to share about their own lives.
- Laugh at yourself. If you’re trying to make others feel at ease, you’re sure to say dumb things sometimes. Take it from the expert. One of my dear friends once said to me, “You’re the smartest blonde I know!” (And I’m not even blonde.)
- Include the kids in the conversation. Not only will the kids feel special; their parents will love you for it.
- Try to answer the question for them. I often catch myself doing this. It goes something like this, “What is your favorite hobby? Swimming? Reading? Cooking?” Don’t feel like you have to give them options . . . just be still and let them figure out how they want to respond.
- Don't continue probing where they obviously don’t want you to dig. This is hard for people like me who want to go deep quick, but remember—relationships take time. It’s okay to try, but if you meet resistance, back off.
How about you? What “do’s” and “dont’s” have you learned along the way? Please add your insights. Then, check back tomorrow for part two of “Conversation 101.”