Greetings Barbarians! Long days and pleasant nights!
What makes a great conversationalist?
Is it their fantastical adventures, great and far? Is it their expertise on a certain subject? Or is it their articulate delivery and arsenal of vocabulary? While I will say that those are the traits of a great orator, it does not make a great conversationalist.
If you want people to shun you and talk behind your back, then never listen to anyone and talk about yourself all the time. Whenever you hear something you don’t agree with, cut them out and voice your complaint. Better yet, don’t wait for anyone and start talking right away.
Let me tell you about a problem a friend is having. I have this friend a while back who is having some problems with a colleague of hers. She told me about her frustrations about a lazy colleague she had. How it becomes unbearable for her because she has do to most of the work. My friend is so frustrated that she asked me what to do. She asked, “Mr. A, what should I do? This colleague is also a friend and I’d hate to lose him as a friend.” Of course, being Mr. A means I’m eager to help. I told her to take him out for lunch and if he speaks, all she should do is listen with intent. Resist the urge to berate him of his laziness and encourage him to talk.
I’m not sure if she followed through my advice, but it was a piece that made sense. It was a piece of advice that I give to all my friends when dealing with these kinds of problems.
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People who talk only of themselves, think only of themselves. Those people are uneducated no matter how much education they’ve attained. No one interests them but them.
If you want to be a conversationalist, you must first become a listener. In our modern times, there is no shortage of things to say and people to say it to. There is plenty of noise in the world right now. Everyone is voicing out their pains, disappointments, and outrage. What the world is in dire need of right now is someone who would listen, someone who is willing to listen. Everyone is saying “I ‘m right, you’re wrong” when what the world needs is someone who would say “I hear you and I want to know more, please continue”. No one is encouraging other people to talk.
We could avoid a lot of unnecessary arguments and conflicts if only we know how to listen. The constant bickering is the result of our incessant refusal to listen to one another. The world right now is in a constant state of finger-pointing that makes the world a hard place to live in. If only we could learn how to listen then the world would be a better place.
Keep in mind that the people you are talking to are more interested in themselves than they are in you. They are more interested to talk about their wants and problems than your wants and problems. Regardless of what it is, a person’s toothache is more important than your financial problems. Remind yourself of that on your next conversation. Resist the urge to talk about yourself.
If you aren’t still convinced, I want you to think about a wonderful conversation you had with a friend. I want you to think about the time someone understood you. Was it because what you are saying is interesting or they are interested in what you have to say? Was it about how eloquent your delivery was or their fair understanding? Now, I want you to think about the time that you understood someone. Was it what they are saying is interesting or you find yourself interested in what they are saying?
They could be handing you the key to eternal life, but you wouldn’t listen if you are not interested. You could be the most boring guy in the room but feel the most special when someone listens to you, right?
Nothing good ever comes out from ceaseless talk of themselves. “But isn’t that what you are doing Mr. A?”, you asked. I know that is why I make my writing for you as much as for me. I’m not writing about me but rather things that helped me that could also help you if you wanted to.
Seek to understand, before wanting to be understood. To be interesting, you first have to show interest. Encourage them to talk about themselves. Tell them what you like about them, acknowledge their accomplishments. Ask those questions that they would enjoy answering. What the world needs right now is someone who would listen and not someone who would speak. That is what we owe to each other.
To Courage and Freedom, and to the voices that we need to listen to!
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