Conversation Skills: Are you sharing or monopolizing?

Sitting in a coffee shop listening to two women talk over each other, I am reminded of that apt analogy of two TVs, both turned on and facing each other. Lots of words but little communication.

We’re all guilty sometimes of talking at rather than to our listener; of delivering monologues instead of mutually exploring a topic. Unfortunately, we usually realise this long after the conversation took place. So how do we stop ourselves from lecturing instead of conversing?

Start by asking yourself these questions:

  1. Am I conversing or delivering a monologue? Does this include my listener, or is it all about me?
  2. Would I enjoy listening to myself? If someone were saying the exact same words to me, would I be interested? Would I appreciate this use of my time?
  3. Are my words contributing to anything, or am I simply attempting to impress or intimidate someone?
  4. Am I pausing after every 20 or so words, inviting feedback or contribution?
  5. Do I allow a pause after someone else has finished talking, even if it means others might jump in?

Today, be a listener. Find your curiosity—see if you can offer more questions than statements. This is one of the secrets of great conversationalists.