Have you ever sat down with somebody and allowed them to talk for hours and hours? Ok, maybe not hours, but up to an hour at best. They would probably label you as an active listener. They would probably say that you’re one of the best conversationalists they have ever come across. But did you speak?
Maybe a bit. Maybe not at all.
However, listening with intent and genuine interest wins people.
A story one of my Australian sidekicks gave me resonated with me and probably with everyone else whom I will tell. At the time, back in the early 1990’s, she was applying for jobs in Tokyo, Japan. Without a degree, it’s virtually impossible to land a job….and heading into a particular interview, she knew she would have to win the potential employer before he asked her about her credentials.
In saying that, when the day came, she sat down in his office and realized that he had pictures on the wall, which all pertained to one another. Visualize these pictures at motels. She immediately got an idea and said, “so, you want to own your own motel?” He retorted, “absolutely. How did you know?” For the next hour, this man talked about himself and only himself….because people are more interested in themselves when another listener is around. Because of her solid follow-up question technique, he hired her on the spot without even asking about the obvious – the credentials.
Some of my executive auditing students recently asked me intriguing and compelling questions that had me talking about myself and my life; and at that time in the morning, I went from feeling sleepy, to fully alert. Granted….these particular students are at a low-level in terms of spoken English, but how are they able to ask such in-depth follow-up questions about topics? That’s my goal as a life teacher. Get yourself thinking about other individuals and have that genuine interest in their life.
So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other people will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.