Listen, Ask Questions, & Care
Whether it’s meeting someone for the first time or talking to someone you have known for years, it’s really important to actively engage in conversation.Some people deem themselves great listeners, but it’s important to note that hearing what someone says is not the same as being engaged.Thinking about what you are going to say next while the other person is talking is not listening. Asking someone a question so that you can then sway the conversation back to you is not being a great conversationalist. We have all met those people that truly listen and have surprised you when they recall something you have said. These people tend to be few and far between, but when you know someone has truly heard you and was interested in what you said it makes you want to be around that person more and reciprocate the gesture. It may sound silly, but it is such an incredible feeling to know that you were heard and what you said meant something to somebody. Be the person that asks questions to engage the conversation and care about the answer. More people will appreciate being around you and respect you for it!
When I attend events alone or even with a group of people and I want to make conversation with someone, the first thing I do is either ask them a question or give them a compliment. This is a really easy way to get someone to engage in conversation. Most people prefer to talk about themselves, which means when you ask them a question you are graciously giving them the opportunity to do so. In all honesty, I am not someone who likes to take the spotlight during conversations and tend to always turn the conversation back to the other person, but a good conversation should be give and take. When leaving a party you don’t usually think “oh that guy was so amazing all he did was talk and talk about himself!” Usually the people you want to talk to the most are the ones that ensure the conversation is an equal one.
Hearing what someone says is not the same as actually listening. As I have stated before, and you will hear me say again, I am an introvert. BUT, I love being social. The thing about being an introvert though is I am very much in my own head. I must admit, sadly, I have met someone and been so swept up in my head- thinking -Okay shake hand, say so nice to meet you, head up, look them in the eye, be confident- that while this inner dialogue was happening I missed the person’s name! Later on, I then have to ask someone what that person’s name was, or find a way to address him or her without using their name. Yikes! So, I have practiced clearing the inner dialogue before meeting someone and instead shake their hand and in turn repeat their name, “So good to meet you ______(Insert name here).” That way I know I have heard their name correctly and since I have repeated it, it’s easier to remember.
The same goes for engaging in a conversation. I have been in situations where I was thinking of what I was going to say next instead of actually listening to what the person was saying. (Again, it’s important for me to get out of my own head!) If you are engaged and really hearing what the person is saying, what you say next will come organically. The conversation flows better if you aren’t trying to steer it. There is a reason you are talking to this person, so listen to what they have to say, and make the most of the conversation. If you are just looking to talk about yourself without engaging another person, you may as well stay at home and chat with your cat!
To take it one step further, I think it’s important show that you care about what the other person is saying. Don’t you love talking to someone that shows enthusiasm about what you have to say? I do! I want to be that person to others; typically, I do really care what other people have to say just because I love learning about other people and their viewpoints. Having a deep and insightful conversation with a close friend is one of my favorite things. However, it’s not a good feeling when you can tell the person you are talking to doesn’t really care about what you have to say. So, be sure to show you care. Give them eye contact, smile, and respond accordingly. It’s the people that make you feel heard that you want to talk to again. Deep human connections can stem from a really great conversation. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
I haven't read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie yet, but I have been told I need to, and by the quotes I have found I think it would be such a great read!