If you want to be a good communicator you need to be a good listener.
A lot of people believe communicating, especially in the verbal sense, is all about speaking. For these people sharing their problems and point of view is what is important.
It’s not about two-way conversation, it’s about them spitting out what they want to say. In your life you’ll meet a lot of people like this.
It’s usually related to some bigger psychological issue where they’re so wrapped in their own world with their own problems they don’t have the capacity to take interest in anybody else.
No one likes this type of person. The ones that call or message you when they’re having problems, but are nowhere to be seen when everything is going fine.
If this is you then you need to start working on developing a listening ear.
Being a good listener means you’re a good conversationalist. It means you can stay present and quiet during a conversation in order to fully understand what the other person is saying.
Being a good listener helps you instil a sense of trust in the person you’re talking to. If you can listen intently to someone and guide them in conversation with questions then they’ll develop trust in you.
Have you ever came away from a conversation with someone and had a very good feeling about them?
You probably came away feeling that you said all you wanted to say and then some. The person you were speaking to was a good conversationist and thus a good listener.
To become a good listener you have to develop a genuine interest in people.
For me I’ve always had an interest in people. When I first meet someone I like to know more about them. Usually background stuff like the country they’re from, where they’re grew up, what they do for work and so on.
When I get to know them a little better I like to know more about their background, are they married, do they have siblings, what their childhood was like.
I enjoy the small talk. It may not be a thrilling conversation but it gets people opening up to you.
Why? Because the favourite topic someone likes to talk about is himself.
It’s human nature since the most important topics of discussion in someone’s life is usually himself or his family. Why wouldn’t he want to engage you in conversation about it.
When you’re interested in people listening comes natural. You don’t have to stop yourself from thinking about your evening plans while they other person is talking. You don’t lose track of the conversation because you’re too consumed with wondering what’s for dinner.
When you listen intently to someone you store away tidbits of information about them. Their hobbies, name of their kids, their ages and so on.
The next time you speak with that person you’ll be surprised at how impressed they are that you remembered what they told you in a previous conversation.
One of the best listeners and thus conversationalists I’ve ever witnessed is Joe Rogan. He is a prolific podcaster and interviews two to three people a week with each one lasting around three hours.
He interviews a range of people including astrophysicists, MMA fighters, comedians, celebrities, evolutionary biologists and anthropologists.
His background is steeped in MMA and comedy but he has a depth of knowledge around many subjects so can hold down a three hour conversation with smart people from different backgrounds.
Where Rogan comes into his own is in his intense focus on and listening to his interviewee. This all stems from his interest in both people and their specialism.
If you want to be a good listener be like Rogan. Find something interesting about people and talk to them about it.
It’s as simple as that.