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 Google "conversation basics" and 4 of 5 bullets focus on listening.  Listening is a vital part of conversation, but Great conversation is a balance of both speaking and listening.

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Photo Credit: Wynand vanPoortvliet

MF: When we were dating, Tom's ability to talk about anything and everything was very attractive.  He is a fabulous storyteller, but sometimes I can't help but interrupt a long story with an entry line like "Zing-zing-zing!" and then proceed to share a point or clarification.  

Most of us know a "Chatty Cathy" or have experienced conversations where we cannot get a word in edgewise.  It used to really frustrate Tom when I interrupted him.  I wished he would just come up for air and when he did, often the point I wanted to make was no  longer relevant.  One time after interrupting and interjecting a point (and getting a 'look') I told Tom trying to share in his monologue was like making love and having to stall 'the big-O' for forever.  He got it and still smiles when he thinks about it.

TOM:  Since MF's comment, we have had multiple discussions and have come up with 5 tips that work for us and make conversations more enjoyable whether we are alone together or in a group.

Photo Credit:  Mihai Surdu

  • Conversations should be a learning experience for both of usWhen MF and I both share and listen, we are both satisfied.  Even debate is fun when we are enjoying each other and listening.
  • The details of a story are often not as important as the impact of the story on usGet to the 'emotional' meat of the issue.  What did I learn?  Has MF ever experienced something similar? How would she have handled the situation?
  • Come up for air.   Build in a pauseAsk open-ended questionsTell me about . . . What's it like . . . Have you ever . . .?  I have also learned to be comfortable with an awkward silence if MF does not have an immediate answer or responds with her own question.
  • Ask permissionDo you have time for a story?  A novel or an abridged version?  Be honest and sensitive.  If now is not a good time, MF doesn't let the sun set on a story she knows is important to me.
  • Watch for non-verbals.  I have become more sensitive to MF's signals, like a gentle hand on my leg or change in her breathing or posture indicating she is looking for an 'on-ramp.'  When that fails her eruption of "Zing-zing-zing!" lets me know she is experiencing an urgent need to interrupt . . . and I know what that means.
MF:  Here is a list of conversation topics we condensed from Bustle.  It caught our attention when we googled "Conversation topics."  These areas are great for practicing the tips listed above.  So, whether it's moments of silence, great conversation or deeper discussions, find your balance and enjoy each other.  Grow in your ability to speak and to listen and may you never run out of things to talk about!


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