The Art of Conversation and Building Relationships

Relationships are an integral part of who we are as people.  Surrounding yourself with people who care during the healing process of a burn injury is an important part of maintaining healthy relationships.  These healthy relationships may include family members, close personal friends, and others that are part of a caring support network.

Attendees -  Guy Group Shot - 11.12.12However, following a burn injury, many find it difficult to initiate conversations, connect with others, or have lost the ability to socialize and build new relationships.  Meeting new people and feeling comfortable in social settings is an important part of creating healthy relationships.

Practicing the art of conversation helps the progress of healing.  Here are some ways to help with the social interaction and becoming part of conversations:

  1. Start a conversation that fits your personality
  2. Identify ways to increase comfort in social settings
  3. Set comfortable boundaries for information
  4. Learn ways to politely end a conversation

In addition to the tips below, the Phoenix Society offers online learning “Beyond Surviving, Tools for Thriving” at

Non-Verbal Skills

–        Listen to what others in a group are talking about, and for what you can contribute
–        Notice a lull or pause where you can join in
–        If not, continue making eye contact and nodding

Assess the Social Situation

–         Identify something you may  have in common
–         Focus attention on the other person
–         Share something of yourself, experiences, likes/dislikes

Closed vs. Open-ended Questions

–         Ask open-ended questions in order to start the flow of sharing information


  • Open-ended questions  typically start with: who, what, where, when and how
  • Share interest in others; ask about their life or job, etc.
  • Ask about hot topics you enjoy, such as music, sports, movies and family
  • Avoid closed-ended questions that are limited; typically those that end with just a  “yes” or “no” answer


Active Listening

–         Active listening is important in showing you are interested and moves the conversation along

  • Face the speaker
  • Make eye contact
  • Nod
  • Match your facial expressions to the topic
  • Reflect the speaker’s information in your next question or comment

Comfortable Boundaries

–         Comfortable boundaries are essential to healthy relationships
–         You can decide when and where not to connect with others, and what you wish to    share
–         Stopping in a neutral way leaves people feeling positive
–         Remember to use positive eye contact, body language and smile
–         Examples:


  • “That’s all I care to talk about now, thanks.”
  • “I’m not comfortable getting into the details of my accident.  Thank  you for understanding”
  • “Hey I have to go now, but it was really nice chatting with you.”


Practice Makes Progress

–         Practice really does help in building your social skill
–         Practice will help you feel confidence
–         Practice with people you know well or see often
–         Next, branch out to situations where you feel less comfortable

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