When most people start trying to improve their conversation skills there is a lot of information out there to take on board. As you cram your brain with all the ways to become a master conversationalist there is often one HUGE thing that is forgotten… LISTENING!
Listening is a crucial skill if you want to really master your conversation skills. It helps set you apart from the majority of conversationalists out there as someone who truly cares what the other person is saying. Have a think about how you feel whilst talking to someone who’s clearly not taking in a word your saying and then compare this to the feeling of when you know your words and opinions are truly being valued. The latter is where you’re made to feel IMPORTANT and this is the point where CONNECTION can occur.
Thus, this episode focuses on how to practice the skill of Active Listening.
First, you must use your ears! Become aware of what the other person is saying. Do this by shutting off your inner dialogue and absorbing every word. Next, remember what the other person has said and simply paraphrase or repeat back what the other person has said.
After summarising what the other person has said, experiment with adding a personal statement followed by a question. This will allow you to take the conversation to new heights as you introduce new conversational threads to make the interaction more engaging. Adding a personal statement will make it easier for the other person to respond to the question that follows.
Repetition + Personal Statement + Question
Active listening allows the other person to express themselves. This is very effective in building RAPPORT as the other persons feels you’re interested in what they have to say. Listening intently to someone also makes them feel more comfortable and at ease in the interaction.
Listening properly will also ensure that you don’t switch off during the conversation. Often when talking to people you may find that your attention is diverted. Through active listening, you will naturally be aware of what is being said and won’t forget or miss anything in the interaction that may be crucial in keeping the conversation going!
During the interaction, you do not have to become a robot and repeat everything the other person says. Try sprinkling in some repetition here and there. You may choose to repeat only certain parts of what the other person has said and this is fine. While it may seem a little robotic at first, with practice you will begin to internalise the skill of active listening and it will become a natural part of your conversation skills.
On that note, just this once, try listening to me and get yourself into some conversations where you can start putting this nifty rapport building technique into practice! I’m also going to recommend that you watch the next episode of The Vault where I show you real life examples of how to talk to people who are distracted by their phones and laptops. Don’t miss it!