Conversation Tip 5: What has pleasantly surprised you today?

What pleasantly surprised you today?

This question often causes people to pause, reflect, and change their dialogue. It gives us a chance to remember some moments of satisfaction, and reminds us that almost every day provides some unexpected moments. “What surprised you today” works too.

But I prefer adding the “pleasantly” to counter dialogues that can run to the negative. This positive question opens up room in a conversation for people to express gratitude for what has gone right – even in a difficult day. We bump into friends while shopping, see a new plant or flower in the yard, read something odd on the internet, or receive an unexpected call. As the ancient Latin proverb goes, “expect the unexpected.” Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t.

What has pleasantly surprised you today? English teachers can use this question as a writing cue, during student-teacher conferences, or with co-workers. Students, especially at more competitive schools, can often feel great stress. Asking students about what is going right in their lives can help them focusing only on the negative. In fact, almost every one can use a gentle nudge toward away from stress and toward gratitude.

So what pleasantly surprised me today? I noticed a new review for Compelling Conversations on Amazon written from Europe. A satisfied customer in Milan, Italy – Siano Luigi “EMY” called Compelling Conversations “a great help!”. This English teacher and private tutor wrote, “I find this book to be a great help for conversation lessons. It’s full of questions/tips/quotes that help students to discuss together, in group or individually on all kinds of different topics.” Given my limited distribution globally, this warm review from far away counts as a pleasant surprise!

Gratitude, as ever, seems appropriate. Finding ways to increase our gratitude for our 21st lives makes emotional sense. Asking this simple question is my fifth conversation tip. Help build gratitude, and create better conversations.

What has pleasantly surprised you today?

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