I’m socially awkward and thus, find myself reading quite a bit on how to have and hold engaging conversations.
In a recent article I read, titled “3 counterintuitive ways to excel in conversation”, Ozan Varol provides three tips for having better conversations.
Although you’d think that excelling at conversation might mean talking better, telling stories etc, in the article, all three points boil down to one thing — listening.
“The best conversationalists listen,” writes Varol. And they don’t just listen. They practice listening with “the goal of summarising and highlighting what the other person said”.
In other words, they practice active listening. They make their conversation partner “feel heard”.
They say “these three magic words” — tell me more. And they are unafraid to look ignorant; they ask questions that may “seem dumb”.
“The secret of the best conversationalists isn’t conviction. It’s curiosity,” writes Varol.
Many of the articles I’ve read say similar things in different words. And whenever I have conversations in which I feel I’ve said too much, I always come away feeling like I could have done better.
(Does that mean that the other person wasn’t really listening either?)
I’ve also realised that the best conversations I’ve had are ones where I feel like I’ve delivered value, either by listening or providing opinions informed by what the other person has said.
Everything boils down to listening.