When to Talk: When to Listen
I find that when it comes to conversations there are two groups of people: talkers and listeners. A talker, with self-awareness, is capable of listening. However, a talker who is feeling nervous might not have that same awareness, which means they just keep talking and talking…
A listener is usually happy to ask a question or two, and then just sit back in cruise control mode. ‘My work here is done’ they think, as the talker just keeps going, oblivious to what the listener has orchestrated: have the other person do all the talking while they, quietly retreat behind their smiles and occasional nods. The listener ends up not sharing anything about themselves; and, quite frankly, that suits them just fine.
When flirting and creating rapport, the main goal is to make the other person feel special; it’s letting them know, ‘I get you. I know you are unique, and I like that’. Let me ask you, from the ‘talker’ and ‘listener’ situation above, do you think flirting and creating rapport can be achieved?
Whist both talker and listeners are quite comfortable in their roles, having fine-tuned them, they aren’t doing them any favours. The talkers are coming across as a self-involved bores. No one is that interesting. The listeners are hiding. Most likely they are afraid of being rejected for, what they deem, as ‘exposing’ themselves. And, they are clever; they know that most people love talking about themselves, so they use it as a safety blanket. Fortunately, I have a trick that will help both parties.
3 – It really is the magic number. A 3 question limit is the key to both talkers and listeners in a conversation. Talkers, after you have been asked 3 questions, simply say, ‘And what about you?’. Listeners, when speaking with less self-aware talkers, who don’t seem to want to stop talking, simply jump into the conversation and say something like, ‘Oh, I find that too…’ And then give an example. You don’t have to sit back and wait to be asked a direct question before you divulge information.
So there you have it. A good conversation is where both parties participate. We all have natural tendencies to be talkers or listeners, but follow these tips, and you can make it work for you, instead of against you.