Last Friday, I presented my synopsis of the book Power by Jeffery Pfeffer. I referred to Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. As I thought about these books, I thought about a skill that is so front and center obvious. In these, and many other books, it is taken for granted, but it probably should be mentioned, and reinforced often: the skill of being a good conversationalist really is the starting place for everything else that follows.
Are you good at the art of conversation? If you are, consider yourself lucky. If not – you’ve got some work to do.
Years ago I heard this definiton (I forget where I heard this, or who said it – my apology to the source):
What is a conversation? The first person speaks while the second person listens. Then the second person speaks while the first person listens. This is called turn-taking.
This is so simple – yet profound. When the other person is speaking, it is your job to listen. It is not your job to be thinking about what you will say next, what you will say in response… but it is your job to listen. If you take your turn at listening, with sincerity and respect and focus, then you have a better chance at being heard when it us your turn to speak.
Anything less than this “listen-speak” turn-taking is not quite a true conversation.
I have not read this book, but I have put it in my “one of these days” stack (so many books – so little time): The Art of Conversation: A Guided Tour of a Neglected Pleasure by Catherine Blyth. Here are a few lines from the book (thanks to Amazon “first pages”)”
All communication is dialogue…
Don’t talk to strangers” Don’t speak until spoken to?
Forget it. Inhibition is useless. How do you start a conversation? Simple: Say hi. It’s easy to say.
And here are three of her five maxims:
Think before you speak.
Listen more than speak.
So, here is your assignment for the week. Have some good conversations. Starting today…