My last two posts (1/10 and 1/19) were about talking too much and what you can do about it. Now it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. Learning to speak to others without droning on endlessly or interrupting requires patience and a sense of timing. The fine art of conversation is simply about listening and then waiting for a natural break in the conversation before you speak.
First, find a buddy to practice with. Choose a topic and have your buddy start speaking first. It’s your job to listen carefully and remain silent until you notice a natural break in the conversation. Then it’s your turn to speak. Be mindful of how long you speak. Try to get your point across in a timely manner, then pause. At this juncture, get feedback and suggestions from your buddy before you continue.
To take your conversational skills to the next level, use a timer and take turns listening for two minutes and then speaking for two minutes. This will help you become a better listener and control the urge to speak for too long. Before you know it, you’ll become adept at the natural flow, rhythm and cadence of conversation and find it even more enjoyable as a result.
Lastly, shift your priorities. Make conversation just as much about listening and what you can learn from the other person as it is about getting your point across. At the end of every conversation, make it a point to ask yourself: what was my biggest takeaway? If you were actively engaged in both listening and speaking, this will be an easy question to answer.
I coach women of all ages, but my specialty is coaching women at midlife and beyond.