Jump to content

"Be a great listener!" (Alman)

Recommended Posts

Found this article this morning, thought it'd be neat to share (for those who haven't already read it).


Source: [link removed[/url]


Be a great listener!

By Isadora Alman


Everyone talks about how important communication is to a relationship: Agreed! And listening is a key component of communication. But how exactly can you make a date know that you're hearing what they're saying—and take a real interest in what they want to share? Let me give you my five rules.


1. Pay attention. Dating is a getting-to-know-you process at its most basic. What better way to do that than listening? Listening is not just waiting for your turn to speak, but being actively involved in the process and absorbing both the obvious and the subtle information being offered. You must have made some eye contact, exchanged a smile or two before now or you wouldn't have gotten as far as this date. Now keep it up. Keep your eyes on the person who's talking. Note the body language. Respond with your own—smiling, nodding, or shaking your head in sympathy when appropriate.


2. Be involved. Verbal "I'm paying attention" signals might be brief interjections when appropriate. You can say, "How interesting/strange" or "What fun!"—or you can ask open-ended questions, such as "Really? Tell me more!" or "What was that like for you?"


3. Don't interrupt or derail the speaker. Some people, under the guise of showing interest, derail the speaker's train of thought. "So when I was in high school..." says Speaker A. "What high school did you go to?" interrupts Speaker B. Others who interrupt think they're being helpful. "So there I was, breathing into a brown paper bag..." The other jumps in with, "I know a better way to cure hiccups." Hold your questions and comments until the speaker is finished, or at least pauses to take a breath.


4. Gracefully deal with a monologist. One exception to not interrupting the speaker's train of thought is allowable. If you have lost the thread of a story entirely or if the other person is rude enough to be delivering a monologue so lengthy you're in danger of falling asleep, you can step in. In those cases, it's permissible to interrupt with something like "Wait. I don't understand. Was it you who phoned the police or someone else?" or "Let me see if I understand what you're saying. You sold your house three times because two different buyers backed out at the last minute?" For politeness' sake, whatever interruption you bring up has got to be for the purpose of clarification and continuing the story being shared, not changing the subject or taking over the speaker's platform. Even if you have no interest in this very long saga, you would be adding to the rudeness by cutting the other off by saying something like "My sister is a police officer" or "Let me tell you about my own real-estate experience." Someone who does more than his or her share of the conversational give-and-take could just be experiencing first-date dread of silence. You might gently remind the speaker at the end of the monologue that you also want a turn to speak: "I have some real-estate horror stories, too. Want to hear one, or should we go on to a more fun topic…perhaps what each of us is currently reading?" This gentle reminder that conversations need to be interactive and mutual might just solve the imbalance.


5. Reflect back what you heard. Do not defend. Do not attack. Most people, if they feel in any way attacked — perhaps by some generalization they take personally — will either defend themselves ("What do you mean, men never ask for directions? I do") and/or attack ("Men might not ask for directions, but you women are terrible drivers!"). Unless you want to make a scene and end the conversation by leaving in a huff, simply reflect back what you heard: "Are you saying that of all the men you've ever driven with, not one was willing to ask for directions when lost?" This reflective technique also works in general conversation, not only to ward off arguments, but to move away from potential conflict: "So you haven't had many happy relationships with New Yorkers? I've always seemed to warm to Brooklyn accents."


6: And if there's nothing to listen to… If you can't get the other person talking beyond monosyllables and the silence is deafening, a good listener asks open-ended questions about whatever you're sure is of interest to your partner. "I understand you collect pre-WW II eggbeaters. Tell me about your favorite one and how you acquired it." Even the dullest date lights up when talking about something that is of passionate interest—and even the most boring topic can become fascinating when spoken about with enthusiasm and delight.

Link to comment

First good advice column I've seen in awhile. The only thing I don't get is: why do people need to read an article to understand this? It's really just common sense. If you were the one speaking, wouldn't you want the other person to do those things? Everything can be summed up with that rule about "doing onto others as you would have them do onto you."

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...