How many of you deleted a friend from Facebook because they said something offensive about politics or religion, child care, food? And how many of you know at least one person that you avoid, because you just don’t want to talk to them! Yes, every conversation has the potential to develop into an argument, but that means we’re not listening to each other. Conversation requires a balance between talking and listening and somewhere along the way we lost that balance . There is no reason to learn how to show you’re paying attention if you are in fact paying attention!
How many of us can talk to different people like Nobel Prize winners, truck drivers, billionaires, kindergarten teachers, heads of state, plumbers on equally personal level. Want to have conversation, really great conversation when you feel like you really understand each other and are able to state your opinion without offending one another, do this:
- Don’t multitask! And I don’t mean just set down your cell phone or your tablet or whatever’s in your hand. I mean be present, be in that moment. Don’t think about your argument you had with your boss, what you’re going to have for dinner or even your hot husband. If you want to get out of the conversation get out of the conversation, but don’t do half and half.
- Don’t pontificate. True listening requires a setting aside your personal opinion. Assume that you have something to learn because everyone you will ever meet will know something that you don’t. Everybody is an expert in something.
- Use open ended questions. This we all know well, but still we go : “Were you terrified”? People will react to the strongest word in the sentence like terrified and their answer will be yes or no. But if we ask: “How did you feel”, they might have to stop for a moment and think about it and you’re going to get a much more interesting response.
- Go with the flow. that means possible come into your mind and you need to let them go out of your mind, not necessary to express all of them( note to myself).
- If you don’t know, say that you don’t know. Talk should not be cheap!
- Don’t equate your experience with theirs. If they’re talking about having lost a family member, don’t start talking about the time that you lost a family member. They talking about the trouble that they’re having at work, don’t tell them about how much you hate your job. It’s not the same, it is never the same experience. You don’t need to take that moment to prove how amazing you are or how much you suffered.
- Try not to repeat yourself. Its condescending and really boring. We tend to do it a lot.
- No name dropping! People don’t care about the years, the names, the dates all those details that you’re struggling to come up with in your mind, they don’t care. What they care about is you, what you’re like, what you have in common, so forget the details.
- Listen. I cannot tell you how many really important people have said that listening is perhaps the most the number one most important skill you could develop. Buddha said if your mouth is open you’re not learning. We’d rather talk, when I’m talking I’m in control. Another reason we get distracted is that the average person talks about 225 words per minute but we can listen up to 500 words per minute, so our minds are filling in those other 275 words. You know it takes effort and energy to actually pay attention to someone, but if you can’t do that, you’re not in the conversation, you’re just two people shouting out barely related sentences in the same place. Stephen Covey said it very beautifully, he said that most of us don’t listen with the intent to understand we listen with the intent to reply.
- Be brief. “A good conversation is like a mini skirt short enough to retain interest but long enough to cover the subject”