5 tips to engage yourself in meaningful conversations


Last week I wrote about making the connection between topics that you learn and your daily life, and using that as a conversation topic. Such practice can make any learning received long lasting. Have you tried it?

Today I have 5 tips to engage in richer spoken or written conversations. You can apply these in the YMP and in any other learning context, or social network structure.

1)   DARE to communicate. Dare to be the first one saying something or posting an idea, comment or question. Rich conversations will not just come to you. Someone has to break the ice, to start the conversation. Either you wait, and may wait forever, or you can take the initiative.

Once a Chinese student explained to me that he did not comment on the YMP site because he was afraid of being wrong. He is a great student, but had an unconfident approach! In the worst case your ideas may not fit the conversation if you do not listen or read carefully. Ideas are just ideas, some are useful, some are incomplete, some show a totally different approach, some are out of context, and others are just bad ideas. So what? You are learning! But, how could you know if you don’t dare to share what you think? The person listening will likely tell you with her/his response. We do not need to be right all the time, unless you are writing answers on an exam!  We gain a sense of what can be more adequate or reasonable through engaging in richer conversations.

2)   ASK! Ask for clarification, for examples, for suggestions, ask why, why not. Use all the other “wh” questions (who, what, where, which, when, how).  The key to asking is involvement and curiosity.  Listening and reading carefully will likely result in questions. Many times there is a deeper message behind what people write and say. Sometimes people´s ideas are unclear, or do not make sense to you. You notice that when you pay attention. That gives you opportunity to ask.

3)   MAKE SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THE MESSAGE. Sometimes we think we understand what someone else wrote or said, but we don´t.  Because we are using our own expectations, beliefs, and our own understanding of the world instead of seeing things through the other person’s perspective and context. A word may mean something different to two different people, even if they share the same culture and background. Always ask what the other means with any specific word if the message is unclear.

It is helpful to confirm whether you understood correctly. For example, ask- “are you saying that … ?” This will also help the other person clarify her/his message and a richer conversation can begin!

4)   GO BEYOND “JUDGING”. There is no conversation invite in comments such as “good work”, “it is not clear”, “there´s lack of effort”. Go beyond; explain why you think that a comment, or assignment if you are in the YMP, is good or poor, in your opinion. Be specific on what is not clear to you, why you think there was no effort.  Identifying strengths and weaknesses, and being able to elaborate on them are valuable skills to develop. Take it even further and suggest how to improve. That is very constructive and trains your creativity!

5)   FOCUS ON THE IDEA NOT ON THE PERSON. There is a distinction between the message and the messenger. Different ideas and comments (messages) help us see different angles of a subject. By focusing on the message and commenting on it we can better understand the suggested angle. Whereas, focusing on the person (messenger) puts the idea in second place and distracts us. So you can tell someone “what you said does not apply to the problem because of … have you thought about … ?” instead of  “you are wrong”. Do you see the difference? The first suggestion focuses on the message and gives place for the idea to evolve. The second one, focuses on the person and can mislead the conversation.

In a nutshell, what I am saying is that courage, curiosity, understanding of the other person´s  perspective, going beyond judgement, and focusing on the message can lead you to richer conversations.

What was your last most engaging conversation and what made it so interesting? Share with us!

Practice these tips: If you are in the YMP find a “share and learn” post every Friday on your YMP global classroom, comment on it, use the ideas in this article, engage in rich conversations, and get some credits doing so!

What is coming? Next week we will have a guest YMP teacher blogger. He will tell us about being a YMP teacher in a foreign country.

Do you have a comment to this article? Share with us, just click on “Leave a reply

Written by: Paola Mendoza at YMP Team

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How to engage in richer conversations – Part 1

Whether you are in the YMP or are part of any other learning setting wouldn’t you sometimes like to engage in deeper conversations with your classmates? A conversation topic that I find powerful is how we apply the things we learn in our lives. Why is this powerful?

Communicating and discussing a new topic learned can be interesting, it is an effective way to deepen your understanding, and it may allow you to know the other person better. “What kind of communication is this”, you may wonder? Interestingly in many cases we do not engage in conversations related to what we learn at school, and other learning settings, in part because it is considered “un-cool”.  Perhaps the reason for this is because we are not familiar with connecting what we learn with our daily activities or with what happens around us.

In the YMP discussing the connection between concepts learned in sustainable development and your daily life with other students and teachers around the world is easy and exciting. Imagine, you not only test and experiment new knowledge in your life, but you also see it tested in the life of other young people around the world. You learn globally and locally!

How do you do this?

Make questions. Ask!

When I asked on the learning platform, “Have you tried adopting a more sustainable habit in your life?” I got these answers:

I’m trying to use less washing powder when doing the laundry. Perhaps the pollution caused by chemicals does more harm to the earth (than) the wasting of water … Wang Xiyue (student – China) This answer poses a good sustainability question: What causes more harm, and more environmental and social costs, the chemicals used in our products or the amount of water we use along with those products? Wang Xiyue is making the effort to modify his consumption pattern instead of putting all the cost on the environment. Is that easy? What does it take? How about environment friendly detergent? It is a substitute good. Is it affordable? How would you minimise the use of water and washing substances? Do we always need to use soup, washing powder and detergents? Many questions and creative conversations can derive from this. We just need to ask! If you are in the YMP review your classroom stories, you may find that another student or teacher has already posted a question or comment to you!

India has many sustainable practices. While they are considered primitive by the current generations, with the new focus on sustainability they appear to be the way to go … The practice of eating on a banana leaf. The fresh banana plant leaves are cut, washed and put on the floor in a line and fresh food is served on them. They are discarded after the meal and the discarded leaves may be eaten by the animals perhaps or may get disintegrated as the case may be. In both cases it is good for nature. No plastic / disposal plates menace.Sailaja Chintalagiri (teacher – India) It was interesting to know about this practice and it even gives an idea for a product to develop in my country. Now I ask you: Would eating on a banana leaf plate work in your country? (let me know in the comments section at the end of this article!)

Some questions have conversation power others not. If a question does not work, try another one, or another person, or occasion! Sometimes it can feel scary to ask, but once you do it the fear and doubts are gone!

Talking about what you learn and try is cool, fun and gives credits in the YMP. Making the connections between new concepts, ideas, and your life, while also discussing them with others makes any learning received long lasting. This can make your studies in general more efficient!

Remember that commenting in the YMP gives you credits! Bring value to your communication, you can do it, and the world today needs it!

How often do you talk about what you learn at school or the YMP with friends or family?  Leave your comment!

Try it this week. Choose a topic or a difficult concept that you have learned at school or in the YMP. Discuss it with a friend, family member, or on your YMP classroom. You may find a different way to understand it or realise how it is linked to your daily life. Share your comments and experience below.

Just click on “Leave a reply“!

Written by Paola Mendoza – YMP Team

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Student Jatin Garg from Delhi, India writes about the YMP

My YMP-Story

Hi everyone……. I am Jatin Garg from Delhi [student group 13:32]
(KVS Keshav puram)

From the utmost deepens of my heart, i am truly very grateful to the YMP to give me such an opportunity. It was my honor to be a part of this wonderful effort to create a sustainable world.

All the way through this divine journey, i’ve explored the world in a new way. Now i am familiar with a brand new face of the society which was earlier untouched by me, and all this is just because of YMP team. It was not just about answering the questions and gaining more and more credits, but it was connecting to the world via some means of people and create a better world to breathe in.

It has changed my thoughts too…. I was coerced to think at a higher level while doing those assignments. Besides of thinking about the profit, now i think about the environmental consequences of my activities. “What impact will it leave on my society?”, “How will it affect the nature?”, “Will it ruin my surroundings?”- These are the thoughts I have in my mind while doing an activity. And i think that is exactly the YMP is about – To create a sentiment in minds that “It is we who will make the future .”

YMP platform gave a higher level to my simple thoughts. It took them to the global level so that every person sitting in some corner of the world have the power to access it. It was due to this global classroom program only that i was able to share my creativity worldwide.

But still, The most remarkable impact that i got was ‘recognition’ among the students. Sorry for being so selfish, But what to do I couldn’t resist myself from mentioning this. Me and my friends were used to be recognized as ‘YMP students’.
And believe me it brings sensation to my ears………..

I would like to thank the YMP team and CEE for bringing this golden opportunity to me. Now i know that i am a better part of Earth and i have the strenght to think beyond the possiblities.

Thanks to you guys………

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Sustainable Development Glossary – Z

Join a Smart Word! We know how frustrating it can be to read an interesting article on sustainable development and not knowing certain terms. Finding a concise definition on internet can take some time. At the YMP we want to make your reading and learning easier with our Sustainable Development Glossary A-Z.



Write it on a comment at the end of this page! – Thank you!

Sustainable Development Glossary – Y

Join a Smart Word! We know how frustrating it can be to read an interesting article on sustainable development and not knowing certain terms. Finding a concise definition on internet can take some time. At the YMP we want to make your reading and learning easier with our Sustainable Development Glossary A-Z.


Is the term that you look for missing in the list below? Let us know in a comment at the end of this page. We will add that term for you!

yuan – The Chinese unit of currency.