There are two parts to a conversation – talking and listening.
We’ve all heard sayings like “you’ve got two ears and one mouth for a reason” and it really is true.
When trying to build relationships and community with someone, it’s so important to listen.
If you’re like me, a little shy and nervous about silence in conversation, it’s much easier to just keep talking than to stop and listen. But when someone is given an opportunity to really talk and have someone just sit and listen, they start to open up more and more.
So what are people really saying to you? Are you asking how they are and after they say “fine” just moving right along? Or are you asking open-ended questions that allow them to go deeper in conversation? Don’t just say “How are you?” ask “What did you do this weekend?” or “What has your week been like?”.
And don’t just let them off the hook with a one word answer. When they say “fine” or “our week has just been busy” don’t just move on. Here’s a great little tip from my journalism school days, when someone gives a short answer and stops talking – DON’T SPEAK. Just keep looking at them and waiting for them to continue or further explain. Just being quiet for a few seconds will encourage them to keep talking and you can keep listening.
As human beings we all have a desire and need to BE HEARD. We never know when someone is dealing with a difficult situation or if they are just dying to share some happy news until we stop to listen.
I would LOVE to LISTEN to your thoughts on this as well. Has there been a time where listening to someone else benefitted them greatly, or greatly affected you? Do you think you’re a good listener or does not talking make you feel nervous in conversation?
And come back tomorrow to hear more about the talking part of conversation!