First, you avoid
running the risk of interrupting if the other person is just
catching his or her breath before continuing. Second, you show the
other person that you are giving careful consideration to his or
her words by not jumping in with your own comments at the earliest
opportunity. The third benefit of pausing is that you will actually
hear the other person better. His or her words will soak into a
deeper level of your mind and you will understand what he or she is
saying with greater clarity. By pausing, you mark yourself as a
Another way to
become a great conversationalist is to question for clarification.
Never assume that you understand what the person is saying or
trying to say. Instead, ask, "How do you mean, exactly?"
This is the most
powerful question I've ever learned for energize a conversation. It
is almost impossible not to answer. When you ask, "How do you
mean?" the other person cannot stop himself or herself from
answering more extensively. You can then follow up with other
open-ended questions and keep the conversation rolling along.
The third way to
become a great conversationalist is to paraphrase the speaker's
words in your own words. After you've nodded and smiled, you can
then say, "Let me see if I've got this right. What you're saying is
. . ."
the speaker's words, you demonstrate in no uncertain terms that you
are genuinely paying attention and making every effort to
understand his or her thoughts or feelings. And the wonderful thing
is, when you practice effective listening, other people will begin
to find you fascinating. They will want to be around you. They will
feel relaxed and happy in your presence.
The reason why
listening is such a powerful tool in developing the art and skill
of conversation is because listening builds trust. The more you
listen to another person, the more he or she trusts you and
believes in you.
builds self-esteem. When you listen attentively to another person,
his or her self-esteem will naturally increase.
listening builds self-discipline in the listener. Because your mind
can process words at 500-600 words per minute, and we can only talk
at about 150 words per minute, it takes a real effort to keep your
attention focused on another person's words. If you do not practice
self-discipline in conversation, your mind will wander in a hundred
different directions. The more you work at paying close attention
to what the other person is saying, the more self-disciplined you
will become. In other words, by learning to listen well, you
actually develop your own character and your own personality.
Here are two
things you can do immediately to put these ideas into action.
First, make a
habit of pausing before replying in any conversation or discussion.
You will be amazed at how powerful this technique really is.
continually ask, "How do you mean?" in response to anything that is
not perfectly clear. This gives you even more time to listen
Brian Tracy's "The Power of Charm"
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