We all like to talk about ourselves, but we rarely actually listen to others. Most of us probably believe we’re expert communicators, but you can’t be an expert communicator if you’re a poor listener or simply don’t care about the opinions of others.
I usually keep to myself, but I start rambling once I’m in a social setting. I don’t know whether it’s nervousness or excitement (probably both), but I just start talking without realizing that I took over the conversation until after-the-fact.
The thing about talkers is that they want everyone is listen to them and provide insight, but no one wants to be around someone who only talks about themselves. So for the sake of your social life, let’s talk about the three ways you can communicate better.
1. Ask Good Questions
Asking questions is often viewed as a sign of respect because it means you’re paying attention; however, asking the wrong questions can make it seem like you’re just pretending to care or listen.
For example, asking a question that the conversation already addressed isn’t a good idea. Asking shallow questions that only require a short response may also indicate that you’re just asking a question to get back to you.
You know that saying that “there is no such thing as a stupid question?” Yeah… I think we all know that there are stupid questions.
Be sure to ask in-depth questions and allow others to finish their thoughts. Then, elaborate on what they said and show them that you’re paying attention and thinking about what they’re sharing with you.
2. Learn to Listen
Believe it not, listening is a skill, and it’s a skill not many people have. That’s why people say there’s a difference between hearing and listening.
When you hear someone, you basically just acknowledge that they said something. Listening, on the other hand, is hearing what someone says and registering it to understand them better.
Most people think that listening is when you respond to what someone says, but that’s not truly listening- that’s just an auto-response. Listeners should take a moment to process what others are saying, replay it in their head, and then dig deeper into what’s being said.
3. It Takes Two to Tango
Conversing with someone should be balanced, unless it’s a venting session. One person should speak, then the other person should speak, then back to the original person, and so on.
Remember that silences are nothing to be afraid of. You don’t need to fill the silences with conversation. Enjoy your food, the scenery, or your wine. I find that taking a breath and then resuming a conversation reenergizes everyone and calms the nerves.
It’s time to tune down that narcissism and suck up to your friends by letting them shine in the limelight once in a while. Again, this is for the sake of your social life.