Why do we identify the best and most eloquent speakers as being the best conversationalists? We just assume that the ability to speak translates to a natural ability to carry a conversation. Let’s consider the upcoming 2016 Presidential election with all its many candidates vying for consideration. Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump; they all are polished speakers. I would love the chance to sit down for a one on one conversation with any of the aforementioned. For the record, I have not met any of these candidates and perhaps my theory is wrong and they are indeed great conversationalists?
BUT….it has been my experience that the best talkers are not always the best listeners.
I believe that listening is highly underrated because it requires that we redirect focus away from self. We live in a world that values self-promotion. We are bombarded with social media opportunities to plug ourselves and whatever it is we are up to at the particular moment. I guess this has become acceptable, at least to the point of universal application. I do it too! Unfortunately this reality causes us to place a diminishing value on the people around us. We are not isolated, we do not exists within bubbles no matter how attractive it might seem.
In order to successfully navigate the world on a long term sustainable basis, we must be able to interact. It is not until we come to the conclusion that listening (not speaking) is the key to a great conversation. It is not by accident that we have twice as many ears as we do mouths! Could you imagine a day where you listened twice as much as you spoke? Why does that sound so difficult? Again, the skill of listening is built in deference. The best conversationalists have mastered the art of forgetting themselves in the moment and creating a mood of outward focus and genuine interest.
I’ll bet that you can remember the best conversation you had in the last 7 days? Yep, I am guessing that you can even remember the details you shared, right down to the time of day and whomever you were with. The reason that you can remember your amazing conversation so well is that the person listening to you speak made you feel as if you were the most important person (at that very moment) in the entire world. The fact that you can remember it so well, gives you a subconscious affinity for the person asking the questions. Could you imagine if the table were turned and you were the one doing the asking? Do you think that you could develop the ability to listen as well as you speak?
I know it sounds crazy, but it might just work out to your benefit SO WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY?!