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Beyond Words: Improve conversations by paying attention to these 6 things…

If you want to improve conversations, look beyond the words.

Words matter… but so do a lot of other things.

Studio 5 Relationship Contributor Dr. Matt Townsend shared how improve conversations by paying attention to more than just their words.


“Do you know how many times I’ve seen somebody say something because they’re mad… and the other person is now devastated by it forever because it was said. But, they don’t necessarily notice it was said when they were mad. It was said at two in the morning when they hadn’t slept for two days and they’re angry,” said Matt.

Matt claimed that words do matter, but so does the context, timing, tone, and history of the words. Our brain has evolved to understand these nuances. Matt believes that our conversations will improve if we pay attention to more than just the words. He said, “Words matter, but so do a lot of other things.”

Emotions Matter

Emotions play a significant role in our conversations. If someone is highly emotional and volatile, their words may not accurately reflect their feelings. Matt advised, “I wouldn’t trust the words half as much as I trust the emotion.”

Goals Matter

To improve conversations, the goals matter just as much as our words. Whether your goal is to get someone to talk, vent, or get something off your chest, it will set the tone for your conversation if you establish the goal first and foremost. Matt observed, “A lot of us don’t actually go in and choose the goal and then choose the conversation that’s best for it, but we should.”

Roles Matter

Every conversation has roles. There’s usually a speaker and a listener. But sometimes, we don’t have people playing the listening role. We just have two people preparing speeches and speaking. Matt emphasized the importance of listening, not just to respond, but to be influenced.

Perspectives Matter

Our views and perspectives of each other also matter. If we always see our partner with a negative view, our words will reflect that negativity. Matt said, “If I think that they don’t care and my view is that they don’t care, then how are my words going to come out?”

History Matters

Our combined history does factor into our conversations. If you’ve discussed the importance of being on time with your partner 15 times, and this is now the 16th time, no wonder you’re mad. Matt advised, “Honor the history. Admit what you need to admit. Apologize. Accept you’ve got a problem and go start to do something about it.”

Values Matter

Our values contribute to our conversations. Matt suggested, “If we can always ask ourselves, ‘What’s the most important thing I can do to align to my highest values and my greatest good?’ to respond to what’s being said here, it can change the conversation.”

Learn more about Matt’s Peacemaker Coaching at You can enroll now, and the new sessions starts August 20, 2024.

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