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Study Abroad: How to Engage Yourself in Challenging Conversations?

When you embark yourself on your study abroad journey, you’re bound to come across people who think differently from you. You will, often, find yourself in conversations with people who have different opinions than yours. Such conversations might make you uncomfortable but they present a great learning opportunity. It is during these conversations you get a chance to grow yourself professionally and emotionally.

In order to get make maximum out of these learning experiences, our career coach recommends following tips:

1. Become an Active Listener

It is only when you listen actively; you can take note of things happening around you. You’ll learn new facts and information on different topics. Even if there is something that you don’t agree with, you need to mention that in a pleasant tone. You must be careful so as not to criticize individuals and put blames on them at any point of time. While talking to a person with a different perspective, you must listen to his/ her opinions with an open mind.  There is nothing wrong in opposing someone’s views if done in a right manner. Staying quite might just promote ignorance and you must not encourage that in case you know your information is correct and its source is reliable.

2. Stay Informed

You need to stay informed and knowledgeable in order to participate actively in any discussion or conversation. In order to combat your ignorance, you need to follow news and credible links online. Reading and listening to opinions of others on different topics can help you widen your horizons and become more receptive to others’ opinions. Another excellent option is of attending diversity and inclusion events held on your campus.

3. Analyse Yourself

You need to analyze your personality and behavior carefully so as to understand if you’re approaching challenging conversations correctly or not. It can help you to spend time reflecting on your personality and topics that trigger an emotional response from your end. This happens very frequently that we start arguing on the topics connected to us as we feel personally attacked which might or might not be true. It is, therefore, important to understand the whole situation wisely before making any comments. It could be that there is nothing wrong about the intentions of other people and they are simply carrying out a general conversation. If that happens to be the case, it should present a chance for learning and not for arguments.

Read Also: The Changing Face of Study Abroad 

4. Learn to Embrace the Uncomfortable

When you indulge in a conversation with people who share different identities and beliefs from you, you might feel little uncomfortable but that conversation can act as a great teaching experience. You’ll get a chance to envision yourself in someone else’s shoes and this has a potential to bring a positive change in you.

5. Stay Connected to Your Network

Although uncomfortable situations help you grow, it is your network that keeps you going and helps you maintain your balance. The network of your close friends can help you restore your balance and emotions after an exhausting conversation or any sort of unpleasant experience. It’s your community that helps you thrive and you must, therefore, never lose touch with anyone whom you’re attached to.

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