GOOD TO GREAT
THE ART OF TALKING To be understood, make your
conversation a two-way street
IT WASN’T AN INTENTIONAL EAVES-DROP…TRUTHFULLY. CONFINED IN THE
CLOSE qUARTERS OF A STABLE OF
POTENTIAL JURISTS, I COULD NOT
block out the conversation I could easily hear
between two men.
For one and one-half hours, Man A seemed to
do all the talking to Man B. Was it my imagination? In the next 30 minutes, Man B said one
four-word sentence, the word “no” once, and the
words “exactly” and “a-ha” twice each.
I calculated that Man A had spoken for more
than 99 percent of the time. Was Man B that
poor a conversationalist? Was Man A that interesting? Was Man B stuck, wanting to move, but
out of courtesy not doing so? And how does
their exchange compare to others?
As professionals, we know to focus on the
skill of listening; yet, do we focus on the skill
of talking? The main goal of communication
is mutual understanding. Agreement can be a
nice benefit, but understanding is mandatory.
And for thoughts to be understood, a conversation must be two-way. Otherwise, there are
too many chances for misunderstanding or just
plain not being heard. Whether it is to a supervisor, an employee or someone you meet while
serving jury duty, it’s as important to be a good
talker as it is to be a good listener…and a good
Who hasn’t had a “conversation” where the
other person did all the talking (and you felt
zapped of all energy when it ended)? More
importantly, have you ever left a conversation
concerned that you did all the talking?
HELPS ORGANIzATIONS ENHANCE
IMPROVE LEADERSHIP SKILLS
THROUGH CONSULTING, COACHING, TRAINING AND
WHEN TALKING, COME UP FOR AIR
A speaker has to come up for air sometimes,
and that serves as a reminder of three essentials to ensure a quality conversation:
Attention: Be attentive to the listener’s reaction
to what you’re saying, both verbally and nonverbally. Assess the listener’s receptiveness. Is
he truly engaged? Engagement manifests itself
in eye contact, questions and cooperative overlapping (those “ah-ha,” words and head nods).
Interest: Ask the listener questions to demonstrate interest in what he thinks. A simple,
“What do you think?” can be valuable. Does
he have questions or something to add to the
Response: Allow time for the listener to react.
Hold your next thought until the listener has
made his comments. After his response, ask
probing questions: You might be surprised at
what else you learn.
The next time you have a conversation, pay
attention to who talks and who listens. See how
often the talker includes the listener and how
often the listener participates in the conversation. How do you fare? Remember, the conversation isn’t all about you. n
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