This weekend I had the opportunity to be with a handful of extremely smart, highly accomplished executive women friends. I noticed two things about our conversations:
- Some of the women add to the conversation only what they think would be of interest to others, not whatever crosses their mind at the moment.
- Some of the women are very generous listeners, not judging what comes out of another’s mouth.
While I count myself in the first category, I became painfully aware I am not always in the second. It made me think of my conversation habits on a date and how I resonate with dates who have a similar conversation style.
When on a date, do you share what you think might be interesting to the guy? Even if you are sharing a story about yourself and your life, it can still be of interest to him if he is interested in you. However, when the conversation becomes a monologue and the other shows waning interest, you need to switch the focus to him or a mutually interesting topic.
I work to be conscious of what falls out of my mouth so I don’t feel I’m prattling on. I also work to bring up topics that I think might be of interest to others, to not delve into fine details unless someone asks, and to not monopolize the conversation. However, I can also spew out comments meant to be witty or funny that are ill conceived and therefore not well received.
Perhaps because of my focus on being pithy, I’ve developed a low tolerance for those who aren’t. Which brings us to my struggles with category 2. On dates I try to be on my best behavior and if my date is belaboring a point, I work to give him some grace. But if he repeatedly recounts great details about things like the golf game he watched on TV, or his sister-in-law’s brother’s gallbladder problems, I’m out of there.
I believe you have conversation responsibilities in relationships, even budding ones. Optimally, you are both a conscious talker, focusing on what might engage the other and sharing air time somewhat equally, as well as a generous listener.
One of these astute women friends pointed out that even if someone you care for is talking about something in which you have no interest, you listen fully — because it is of interest to them. Her comment struck me as incredibly mature, evolved and loving. I saw I have some work to do to increase my generous, loving listening skills.
How about you? Are you a considerate and conscious talker? And a generous listener?
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