Conversation has long been the most important learning technology. Unfortunately, not everyone is a born conversationalist. From an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, She Talks a Lot, He Listens a Little, tips on conversing:
- Set aside a time to talk. Taylor Keeney, a pilot, and his wife plan to speak for the first 20 minutes every day when they both get home from work. ‘The rule is that the TV or radio can be on but no computers or cellphone calls for however long it takes to re-connect,’ he says.
- If you’re the talker, slow down. Cheryl Leone, a 66-year-old management consultant from Raleigh, N.C., breaks down her conversations into more bite-size pieces, so her boyfriend of 11 years can better absorb them. ‘I tend to throw a lot of things at him, and he could still be on one and two when I hit 10,’ she says. ‘Now I try to keep my list to about three things.’
- Ask questions. Ask for feedback. ‘Conversation isn’t a monologue,’ says Rob Dobrenski, a psychologist in New York City. ‘Remember that you are talking “with” a person, not “at” one.’
- Let the talker talk. Remember that if you’re the non-talker, you control and manipulate the communication by constantly curtailing conversation, which can be hurtful to the other person.
- Really listen. Being silent is not the same as active listening. Use cues, such as head nods or statements such as ‘I hear you.’ When the talker pauses, relay back what you have heard and add your thoughts.
- Ask for a break. ‘The non-talker should feel free to say, “Let me have a quick breather, I’m running out of listening gas. Let’s come back to this in a few minutes, or at least let’s break up this conversation with a new topic,” ‘ Dr. Dobrenski says.
- Use technology as a supplement, not a substitute. Sure, it’s a great way to check in and converse in short bursts. But remember that it might not provide enough of an emotional connection for the talker in your life.
- Call someone else. Sometimes it’s better to find an attentive audience, rather than numb one into submission.