Written by CH Cheah
Tuesday, 03 June 2008 06:08
I have just had a conversation with a colleague moments ago. Well, by literal definition of "conversation", this one barely qualifies. It is not really meaningful conversation. I did most of the talking. The other guy barely has a chance to say much. In retrospect, I didn't get much out of the conversation either, though it felt good at that time.
If you put a ratio for speaking versus listening for that conversation, I'd say it would be about 10:1, meaning that I am listening only 10% of the time. So, I am not having a conversation, I am giving a speech!
Have you ever had that kind of one way conversation? It usually happens when you're particular excited, passionate or knowledgeable of the topic. Or it could be all of it - you're excited, passionate AND knowledgeable.
Sometimes, the 'speech' also includes bragging, gossiping and whining. What do you think you'd feel like if you are at the receiving end of this 'speech'. Would you feel annoyed, irritated and bored? Unless you're a very patient type of person, you probably would, especially when you're not given a chance to do your own gossiping and bragging.
But perhaps most importantly, you are not listening enough. You should first develop your listening skills before you can master the art of having meaningful conversation with other people. When you take time to listen to their thoughts and opinions, they will feel special and appreciated. You will also benefit because you stand to learn a lot from a person from what he says and the way he articulates his thoughts.
Listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Look at his body language when he is talking so that you can feel what the other person is driving at. Pay attention to him. When you are unclear about certain points in the conversation, ask questions. This will clarify your understanding of his points and the other person will be flattered just because you are curious enough to ask. If you think the other person is knowledgeable about a certain topic, asking his opinion will enrich the conversation and gives the other person the chance to talk longer - giving you the information that you need.
If you have a differing opinion on the topic, don't interrupt the person. Let him finish his point, and then politely mention your point of view. He may then give the reasons for his particular stand and offer you a chance to state yours. In this way meaningful information can be exchanged and both of you may be able to form a collective new opinion which is agreeable and useful to both of you.
It is also important to be positive when asserting your opinion. Let your opinion build on the topic and make a positive contribution. Don't be judgmental. Know that your opinion may not be the best or the only one that is valid. Understand the grounds on where the other person is coming from. Be positive and tolerant on differing viewpoints relative to yours, even for one which you felt strongly about. Don't let the conversation become an argument.
Being a good listener is to be a good friend. When you listen attentively to the other person it creates a bond between both of you. Walk in his shoes as you listen, feel what he is feeling and really get into his story. If he feels good after pouring his hearts out, you'd have played a part in making another person's day, even if it's just a little. He will remember you and you would have gained a friend.
Ultimately, a good conversation is also a good sharing session. You may be eager to give (or talk) in a conversation. But if also learn to really listen, it will bring the conversation to a more mature level and creates a bond between you. Both of you will leave the conversation with a good feeling and you would have gained something from that experience.
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