Are you a generous conversationalist?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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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2 responses to “Are you a generous conversationalist?”

  1. Devon Avatar

    I think listening to someone is a great gesture of acceptance and kindness.
    Don’t we all feel great when someone cares enough to spend time listening to us? It takes practice to be a good listener I’m still working on it.

  2. kiriecat Avatar

    My SO told me that the fact that I listen to him and remember what he says is one of the things he appreciates most about me. It’s also one of the things I first loved about him.

    Actually hearing what someone is saying without judging or interpreting is another way to let someone know that you truly care about them as a person – that you don’t want to hear what they think you want to hear, but what they actually feel. It opens a door to emotional intimacy that can be difficult for some, but is well worth the effort. Sometimes it takes a while for the “real person” to come out, but at least being non-judgemental give the other person a chance to become more comfortable with you – which I think is why initial conversations seem so difficult.