The Art of Conversation

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Hazlett quote - listening

Many colleges offer a degree in “Communications Sciences,” but I think that is a bit of a misnomer.

I have spent the last 20 years plus of my professional life helping companies tell their story. And yes, sometimes that can feel like “science” because you propose a theory, perform the experiment and then measure your results to see if your conclusion is true.

But at the end of the day, communications is much more nebulous than science. At the core, all “communication” is about either sharing information or, even better, driving a conversation. A conversation has to contain at least two or more people, each with their own thoughts and perspectives and emotional baggage. With all that going on, it can feel challenging to get your point across.

But often, to get your point across, you have to try to understand the opposing point of view first.

Think about the last conversation you had. It could have been with a colleague, trying to sway him to your side about a new product to propose. Or it could have been with your spouse, trying to get her to see the merits of a “Baseball Stadiums of the U.S.“ tour via RV rather than a relaxing week on a tropical beach. Or it could have been as simple as wanting your 4-year-old to wear pants versus shorts in the middle of winter. (In my experience, this conversation could have been with a 16-year-old child as well…sigh…)

Did you just keep pushing your opinion, without listening to the other person’s perspective? And how did that go? Especially with the “pants versus shorts” conversation?

The “art” part comes in here. Employing the art of listening to the conversation can help you detect what is holding the situation at a standstill. Maybe your colleague already propose that same new product and has inside info why it can’t happen. Maybe your wife would do a couple of ballparks if there were a couple of “beach” days included. And maybe that four-year-old (or 16-year-old) will learn that winter winds are cold on bare legs.

Think about how you paint your perspective in your next conversation, and be sure to add in the color of listening. You might just be surprised at the artwork you end up with.

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