Both online and in person, connective conversations are increasingly rare, so your capacity to connect deeply with diverse individuals will cause you to stand out and attract smarter support sooner in all parts of your life. Here are practical pointers to support that habit:
1. Be direct in answering questions. First answer. Then elaborate, not the reverse, which is increasingly common. Don't give qualifiers and background before answering. That's underbrush he must wade through. You may seem to be going off on a tangent rather than responding to him or, worse yet, being evasive.
2. Focus on what she is saying right now. Avoid trying to anticipate what she is going to say. You may miss what she actually means.
To truly listen is to risk being changed forever. ~Sakej Henderson
3. Don't interrupt. It sends the message that your views are more important than his.
4. Confirm your understanding of what she said, using her words. Don't paraphrase. You are keeping a thread to the conversation and thus moving you both forward in it.
Every moment counts, and moments are lost when you're not in them 100 percent. ~Tachi Yamada, M.D.
5. Ask follow-up questions to clarify and to glean the specific benefits he seeks or problem he wants to solve -- or other conscious or unconscious desire he has in the conversation.
6. Take notes. It demonstrates interest and respect and enables you to recall exactly what was said. When you take notes, you triple the amount you remember -- even if you never look at those notes again.
7. Control outside interruptions and distractions. Where possible, meet in a place that is not noisy, where seats are comfortable.
8. Sit side-by-side or at a right angle, sidling, rather than across from her. We tend to like each other better when walking, sitting or standing side by side or at right angles from each other.
9. Avoid patterned shirts, blouses or other distractive clothing, especially on the upper half of your body. Patterns, like noises, shorten attention spans.
It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much. ~Yogi Berra
10. Lean slightly forward toward him and look directly at him much of the time. Nod sometimes and do not fidget. Just as smiling actually lifts your mood as well as those who see it, acting interested in these ways often makes you feel more interested.
11. Remain genial and receptive. Do not react negatively -- even and especially to highly charged words and tones. Hear her out. Then respond. Say, for example, "May I tell you my thoughts on that?" Don't change the topic. Some people will cool down and begin to talk calmly once they vent their anger and frustrations and feel heard.
Hint: Become the glue that holds groups together.
The more strongly someone connects with you, the more likely it is that they will emulate your becoming behavior, tell others about your positive traits and actions, and want to introduce you to opportunities, colleagues, friends and the friends of their friends. Sound like a way to savor your life with others? For further ideas on fostering convivial, worthwhile conversation, I recommend Crucial Conversations, Conversational Intelligence, Difficult Conversations and Fierce Conversations.
Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. ~Karl Menninger