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Learning to listen and fight my monologue tendencies

I admit I love to talk. Some people like talk about the “gift of gab.” Now I’m not sure if I have it but I do know that I definitely enjoy listening to myself talk. However, as I’ve gotten a little bit older I’ve slowly but surely come to the realization that there are other people that are involved in a conversation. If others aren’t involved in the conversation it is a monologue and people look at you funny, so this post is for all of you talkers out there.

If you find yourself in the midst of what should be a conversation and you realize that the other person hasn’t said a word in five minutes take a breath and see if maybe, just maybe they have something to add. One thing that I try to make a concerted effort to do every time is listen first. If you get engaged in a casual conversation make it a point to really listen to what the other person has to say and let them get engaged in a story. I find that if I work on listening first not only is my part of the conversation better because I know a little bit more about the other person but when people notice that you’re actively listening, a lot of times it prompts them to really open up. I think there’s almost a cue when you are actively listening to somebody that lets them know, “Hey this person is not going to interrupt me and they’re going to let me finish,” and because of that you get a better response on their part.

Finally I think that for every talker out there it’s really important to think about the conversations that you’ve had after you’ve had them. I think this is especially true and relevant in the business context. Think about how you went through it and where you might have been better served to do some listening rather than speaking. It’s from my client calls or workshops with clients where I think I’ve really learned that the key to success is listening more talking less. I always try to take a minute and just think about the conversation I had and not just from the context of what was actually said, what I need to do about it, what are the action items, and other basic housekeeping details. I like to reflect on some growing points as well such as:

  • How could I have made the call better
  • How could I have listened more
  • Where could I have put in prompts to the cue the other person to speak
  • Where could I have elicited more information

As I said at the beginning, one of the keys to success is ensuring that you do at least as much listening as talking in any conversation because it’s what enables you to better meet the expectation of the other person. Many times, what helps you get your ideas across and enables you to convince the other person of the benefits of a particular idea or objective isn’t what you say so much, it’s how well you listen to them and how well you react to their cues. I’m curious what other people have to say on the topic. It’s an area where I know I could still learn quite a little bit about.

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Henry Brown

Found that I learned how to be a better listener by asking, at least most, of your summary questions of the participant(s) in the conversation… Got to be careful in wording…

1. How could I have made the call better:

No Change

2. How could I have listened more

2 What could I have done to make sure we were communicating

3. Where could I have put in prompts to the cue the other person to speak

3. What could I have done to encourage you to participate

4. Where could I have elicited more information

4 see 3

Joshua Millsapps


I love the list, I particularly like the way you put number 3, because it recognizes that there are many ways to foster participation. Thanks!