English with Raymond's
Third of Four Steps
to Master Conversation Skills in English
Many students, who are learning English as a second language, feel that their greatest deficiency in using the language is with conversation skills. Here is the third of four fundamental characteristics of good conversation skills that can help you be a better listener, as well as a better speaker, during a conversation with someone else.
Don’t forget to talk about what interests your listening partner.
Some people complain that they don’t know what to talk about with another person, or that they have trouble trying to stop talking about themselves. This is something that you want to learn how to control if you would like to master good conversation skills, and especially if you are a professional business person.
Therefore, it is important to try and be a better listener so that you can determine what the other person is interested in talking about. If you continue to dominant a conversation, and don’t pay attention to what interests your listening partner, you will never capture the other person’s interest in order to have a successful conversation. The dialogue can’t be only about you if you want to manage to have a mutual exchange with someone. Don’t be narcissistic. It’s a good idea to learn how to listen, and then respond properly.
The first question is “how” to listen to the other person in order to determine what s/he is interested in talking about. The question is not about how to get the other person to talk, it’s about finding out what interests him/her. A good rule of thumb is to not start talking about yourself too early. Instead, give the person time to talk about what is on his/her mind. Be interested in the story that s/he is telling you, and share your ideas and experiences related to the same story. Don’t change the subject and start talking about yourself because your turn will come next in order to talk about what interests you. As an alternative, encourage the person’s ideas first by giving him/her background information or assertive statements which support what s/he is talking about. Be active in the conversation, but be brief, and remember to say something positive and constructive. Positive remarks give life to a successful conversation. Negative comments will kill the conversation in seconds. Learn to be patient and listen to what is being said to you first. Your turn to talk about your interests will come next.
When your listening partner has finished saying what is on his/her mind, it is now your opportunity to introduce your own topic of interest to talk about. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that you can simply talk about yourself, and forget that you have someone listening to you. Now we come to the second question. How do I engage my listening partner in what I have to say? This is a good question, and the answer is basically the same as when you were listening to the other person in the beginning, but we need to keep the following three points in mind. Firstly, show positive emotions when talking about your interests. Look for something positive to say in order to maintain the other person’s interest. If you are always negative, the other person will eventually stop listening to you. Secondly, keep your conversation partner engaged in your words. Share your thoughts and ideas in such a way that the person forgets what is going on around him/her. Be interesting and stimulating. Ask him/her what s/he thinks about what you are saying. Keep your conversation flowing constantly. Third of all, build meaning in what you want to say to the other person. Share you thoughts and ideas in such a way that the information is thought-provoking and useful for the other person, as well. Don’t share only egoistic ideas. If there is significance in what you say, that means that your words include constructive information for both of you. The conversation is of interest, not only to you, but also for the other person.
In conclusion, in order to master conversation skills in English, remember to discipline yourself so that you really listen to the other person in order to discover what interests him/her. Be patient, interested, active, alive, engaged, positive and stimulating, all at once. It’s important to display positive emotions; such as, genuine smiling, eye contact, touching, and laughing. Show that you care. For example, you might say: “That’s great. You must be really proud. I’m happy for you. Tell me more about that. Where were you when that happened? What did s/he say to you? Are you kidding?” With practice, you will find out how effective it is to listen and to respond in such a way that you create a positive environment in order to have a successful and meaningful conversation with someone.
Written by Raymond Bevilacqua, ENGLISH with RAYMOND©, December 2014