Here’s How to Improve All Your Conversations

When you find yourself in conversation, do you do most of the talking, or does your partner? Do you ever notice that someone seems to lose interest in what you’re trying to explain? Do you find yourself having to change the subject back to whatever it was you were trying to make a point about? Are you in the habit of discussing a few particular subjects in great detail with everyone you meet? A “yes” to any of these questions means your gift of gab could use some polishing up.girls hanging out

To improve your skills, you need to recognize that the art of conversation isn’t about talking, it’s about listening. While it feels good to be heard, you’ll take away much more from your conversations when you pay attention to the other person. For example, suppose you speak to 10 people this week. If you do all or most of the talking, you’re going to have ten very similar conversations. You’ll be left with about the same knowledge you had at the beginning of the week. However, if you make your points quickly and leave plenty of time for your partner to express themselves, you’ll be left with new views and ideas that will help develop your own. 

Maybe you have important thoughts that you feel absolutely need to be shared. Write them down in entirety, leaving out no details. Then, pare them down to only the key points. This way, when you speak with someone, you can quixkly pass them the idea and then focus on what they have to say.

Remember, listening doesn’t mean waiting quietly for your turn to speak. Pay attention to every word your partner says. Don’t breathe a word until they’ve gotten it all out. Just nod and pay attention. You’ll be amazed at what they have to say when you encourage them to be open with you.

Ask questions. Imagine that whatever the other person is telling you is just the surface, and that somewhere underneath, there’s buried gold. Questions are your tool to dig around for the treasure hiding in their words. Even if you really aren’t interested at first, you may find a surprise when you dig deeper.

Listening is a skill that takes practice. You’ve learned your conversational habits over the course of your whole life, so don’t feel bad if it takes some time to become a person who talks less and listens more.