Caring Conversationalists Use this Tool

tools1“The best minute you spend is the one you invest in people.”                Ken Blanchard, The Secret, The New One Minute Manager

If you’re a good  listener with a sincere desire to encourage others, you’ll love adding this powerful tool to your skills.Here’s how it works:

You’re settled down for a  lunch meeting with your  friend Janey, and as a good listener you start with this conversational opener. “Janey,  I’m excited to hear about your final week at school.Tell me all about it. ” She excitedly begins and you focus in as you Engage totally on your good friend. You’re  dedicating your body, mind and spirit to assure that you really hear, understand and appreciate all she’s saying. For now, your new listening skill remains in your conversational tool kit.

As she continues, you  Affirm  what she’s saying, naturally letting your eyes, expressions, gestures and comments encourage her. You’re not saying much, but you can see that she’s appreciating  your active listening. You continue to enjoy her enthusiasm as you nod, smile and offer an “Uh, huh.” You’re  ready to use your new conversational tool, but realize that the time hasn’t come yet.

Next, as she pauses for a sip of her coffee, you briefly, take the imaginary conversational microphone from her to  Reflect  Janey’s comments back to her. “It sounds like you were totally surprised,” you prompt, then you pass the mic back. You know that even repeating her exact words to her will demonstrate your interest and be encouraging for her to continue. You also sense that the time is approaching when you’ll be able to send  an even more meaningful affirmation to your friend.

That moment comes when Janey tries to  redirect the conversation to you. “Well, enough about me,”she says, “How are you doing?” This is your cue to  send a powerful message of caring that affirms your interest in her in a way she probably hasn’t heard before. You stifle your natural desire to talk about yourself, and instead invite your good friend to say more. This conversational move could sound something like this. ” Thanks for asking about me, but first,  I’m interested in hearing more about your award.” Your friend  feels greatly honored and, as you continue to listen well, she feels connected with you at a new and deeper level.

After she has finished, you use this conversation transitional time to Summarize. You  demonstrate that you’ve listened well by giving a brief recap of what  she has said. If dates, times, or tasks were presented, you affirm that you have them right. If appropriate, you promise that you’ll follow through on whatever you’ve agreed to do. For example, “I’ll look forward to the class reunion on the 12th, at 5pm, at your house and I’ll bring the salad.”

The key point in growing as a great conversationalist is, of course, developing the self-discipline to be able to stifle the natural urge to take the speaker’s mic to tell your own story.  As you experience the joy of enriching others by being a super listener, you’ll discover that the relational rewards are huge. You’ll become less self-centered and others will seek you out to engage you in conversation. Keep working at it. It takes a heart for others, discipline and practice  to use your EARS— –  E-Engage, A-Affirm, R-Reflect and S- Summarize— to really connect with others.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”       Stephen R.  Covey