I like talking with other people, but I really enjoy listening. That's probably one of the reasons I become a life coach. But, sometimes, it can feel as if I am in a one-way discussion. Do you know what I mean? There is that friend, family member, or co-worker who won't let you get a word in, at all. And, when you do speak, he or she keeps saying “let me interrupt you for a second,” or they just talk over you. Then there are the conversations where you are discussing your experience, but the other person interrupts with “oh, let me tell you what happened to me…” or "that's nothing, when I..." and immediately, the discussion is all about him or her. It can make you feel like your voice is not important, and that you must fight to be heard. Maybe, you are that person who monopolizes the conversation—and you don’t realize it.
Conversations should be a two-way experience. It is a cycle of give and take, send and receive. Likewise, discussions can be more enjoyable when each person has equal time to contribute by being the speaker. As such, the art of conversation requires the ability to be aware of your audience when you are the speaker, and to be actively attentive when you are the listener. The speaker must know how much to share, while the listener must know when to interject. More importantly, the speaker should know when to give give the listener an opportunity to be the speaker. These skills can be developed.
Below are some communication tips that can help you with creating a shared communication experience:
Be aware that everyone needs to be heard and everyone feels his or her voice is important – the discussion is not just about you or what you want to say
Be a good listener by giving the other person sufficient time to speak - a good communication rule is that each person is given 5-10 minutes to speak without interruption
Listen actively and do not focus on what you want to say - don’t interrupt the speaker while they are talking just because you want to make a point
If you need to interrupt, it should only be to clarify meaning – ask if its OK to interject and obtain clarification about what the speaker is saying
While the speaker is talking, wait for brief pauses, or where the discussion allows, to confirm that you are listening by asking the speaker questions regarding what he or she is discussing (do not interject your personal experiences yet) or repeat a key comment to show you understand what the speaker is saying
Ask the speaker if he/she has completed his/her thoughts or have more to say before you talk about your experience or change the subject
If you have been speaking continually for more than 10 minutes, it is time to be quiet and give the listener time to speak; wait for your turn to talk to discuss your experience or to change the subject