Do you know what the number one secret of good conversation is?
I can tell you it’s not being articulate or having great general knowledge and it’s not even being able to give good advice (though all these things help). The key to being a great conversationalist is quite simply being a good listener.
I can guarantee that if you have ever left a party and said to yourself, 'I had a great conversation with that person', it’s because they were a good listener. They would likely have allowed you to speak and say all that you wanted to say, they would probably have asked great questions that opened you up, and they would have given you feedback that showed they were paying attention to all you were saying.
The good news is anyone can learn to be a good listener. Here are five things all good listeners do:
No 1. They give their undivided attention.
They make eye contact and are not looking over your shoulder at what else is going on in the room or constantly checking their phones!
No 2. They don’t interrupt.
In other words they allow you to say all that you want to, before they speak!
No 3. They concentrate.
They refuse to let their minds wander onto what the football score is or what they are cooking for dinner tonight!
No 4 They make positive responses.
They listen with their whole body, so they will maybe nod their heads, make appropriate facial expressions or they might lean forward to indicate engagement.
No 5 They know when and how to ask the right questions.
There are two types of questions that are effective when listening. The first kind are reflective questions where you ask a person, ‘how did that make you feel?’ or ‘was that the outcome you wanted?’ The second type are clarifying questions, where you say something like ‘correct me if I’m wrong but what I think you are saying is….’ This tells the other person that you have been listening and are interested.
All it takes is a little mindfulness and lots of practice and you can become a good listener....and in turn a GREAT conversationalist!!