Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Charm School - The Art of Conversation, Part 4

Welcome to Friday Charm School! There's a lot to this conversation stuff, isn't there?

Conversation Essential 4: Develop Creative Listening Skills

While creative listening will never take the place of participation in a conversation, it is the listener who is often able to keep the conversation ball moving along. Does that sound contradictory? Here's how it works:

The creative listener truly listens to what another person is saying, becoming involved in their story and silently taking note of interesting points that bring up questions or comments. Then when the ball passes to you, you can easily keep the conversation moving with a remark that ties in directly to the statements of the last person. And you can easily ask questions that show you are interested in the other person and that will bring out the best in them.

Here's an example. John is talking with Sarah and Krissy about his recent trip to Paris. Sarah, our creative listener, has been paying attention with interest. When John finishes his story, Sarah might say, "John, I've always wanted to visit Paris, and you make me feel as if I'd been there!" Her creative listening helps keep John enthused in the conversation. Then, to keep the ball moving and to involve Krissy, Sarah can say, "Have you ever traveled to France, Krissy?" This is an invitation for Krissy to pick up the conversation. If she hasn't been to Friday Charm School and drops the ball, Sarah can turn back to John and a question like, "Did you visit any other countries in Europe, John?"

This may sound hokey, but with practice you'll be a natural at keeping the conversation lively and interesting with ease.

Creative listening is nothing more than expressing a sincere interest in another person. It's the highest form of making others interested in you - by you being interested in them!