What’s easier: talking or listening?
Almost every evening my husband and I take a walk together. I love this time. For 30-40 minutes out of the day, I can just be, and enjoy being with the one I love.
But there are some days where I am so hyped up from work or just life that I jabber on and on, and I know it gets boring to listen to.
When I’m really excited about something, it’s not easy to tell myself to hush up and let someone else have a turn. But I devised a sneaky little tactic to trick myself into being a better conversationalist.
When I’m excited about something that happened at work or during the rest of my day and start to monologue, I quickly come up with a question that draws my husband (or whoever is listening) into the conversation. Now they get a chance to talk, and I can practice listening.
This is a great tool to use with patients too. If you catch yourself dishing out the information with a generous hand, ask a quick question. It can be anything, like “do your kids like to help in the kitchen?” or “tell me what you know so far about type II diabetes.”
Two really good things happen when you ask questions instead of talking. For one, you get an opportunity to learn. It might feel like there is nothing left to learn about a person, but if you practice this for a while, you will be surprised what you find out.
Second, the quality of your conversation improves drastically! Questions keep your listeners from getting bored and feeling uninvolved. They keep the give-and-take of the conversation going.
Think back on conversations you’ve really enjoyed. Was it when the other person dominated the conversation? Probably not. We all love to be heard, and asking questions instead of talking is a great step towards being a better listener.
What do you struggle most with: knowing what to say or remembering to pause and let others talk?