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.
|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 us. When 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 us. Get 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 pause. Ask open-ended questions. Tell 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 permission. Do 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.