While going through a tight street, I encountered two separate ways. I chose to go right and the moment I started walking, I heard a vicious voice of barking dog. I listened to it very carefully and changed my way. Now many people would argue that I didn’t actually listen to what that dog said, well… I am pretty sure he wasn’t greeting me saying,”Yo! Jibran, how are you. Long time no see.” Now it would’ve been really awkward if I actually replied saying wof wof wof. People might consider it stupid but every day, we are having a conversation of wof wof wof without understanding each other. From a scientific debate to the chit chat of neighbors, mostly we just exchange the so called words in audible form; we are not having a proper conversation.
We are living in 21st century where skills have far surpassed the hard paper you get after graduation or information of irrelevant stuffs you memorize every day that is literally of no use in your actual life. Now there are many skills that can give a person ability to “fly like an eagle” but among all those skills, there is one skill that is very important and without that skill, whatever you gain or do is useless. That is the skill of communication. Now communication may seem like an easy task because we just have to talk right, in language or with gestures. But remember, even animals communicate, in their own language, with their own gestures. So what is the benefit of so called intelligence we humans possess if we can’t make use of it?
If you browse the internet, you will find thousands of ways for better communication and most of them focus on how to say wof wof wof professionally and as Celeste Headlee said, “It is crap.” Remember in communication, you don’t just speak, you listen too. And I believe that listening part is more important than anything as Dalai Lama said,“ When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” So to have a better conversation, may it be in an interview or with a nice girl/guy that you want to date with, I came over 10 rules presented by Celeste Headlee who is a great Radio Journalist. I will explain these rules as following;
- Don’t Multitask
Remember, don’t start juggling when having a conversation, don’t talk about what your argument with your colleagues or what task your boss gave you, Be in present. If you want to get out of the conversation, so get out, don’t be half in it or half out.
- Don’t Pontificate
Here I want to present three quotes that explains everything,
Celeste Headlee said,” If you want to state your opinion without any opportunity for response or argument or pushback or growth, write a blog.”
“The famed therapist M. Scott Peck said,” True listening requires a setting aside of oneself. Setting aside your personal feelings and opinion can open your mind and learn how to accept.”
Bill Nye said,” Everyone you will ever meet knows something that you don’t.”
So don’t enter a conversation believing that you know everything and don’t force your opinions over other, you are not preaching, you are having a conversation.
- Use Open-Ended Questions
Don’t give limitation to the questions you ask. Questions like “Are you feeling better?” or “Were you scared?” can only be replied by answers that focus on the most powerful word in the question i.e. better or scared. Instead you can ask,” how did that feel?” or “what was that like?” Then you will get more interesting answer than just “I am OK.”
- Go with the Flow
When having a conversation, thoughts will come to your mind and you need to let them go. Don’t stick to the thought and ignore whatever the person in front is saying. Like in a classroom when you get a good question in mind, you stick to that question and miss whatever the teacher said. You can’t listen if you have something stuck in you mind.
- If you don’t know, say that you don’t know
Now many of us have egos that we can’t let go, I know, I understand… Mummy Daddy… Nobody is perfect in this world, so if you don’t know, it’s totally OK. Trust me you won’t get shamed, instead you will learn.
- Don’t equate your experience with theirs
Now I have seen many anime where the protagonist says,” I understand how you feel.” But truly man, don’t say that in real life. Every experience is unique and relevant. When someone says something about their life, don’t start talking about the same things happened in your life too. Remember it’s not about you.
- Don’t repeat yourself
You know what, I have done skiing. I have really done it, it was an amazing experience. That skiing… 10 minutes later, skiing, yeah I have done that, its amazing bro. The snow was a great experience.
Don’t do that, Its boring.
- Stay out of the Weeds
Don’t talk about details like dates, years, months etc. People don’t care about all of these, they care about you and your life experience.
The most important rule, listen. I cannot emphasis enough on it. Stephen Covey said in his book of “The seven habits of highly effective people” “Most people don’t listen in the intend to understand, we listen in the intend to reply.” So quietly understand what a person is saying. Mostly, people don’t seek solution for their problems; all they want is someone to hear.
- Be brief
When you can say something in one minute, why take ten? Be as concise as possible and cover the subject totally. This is an adaptation of a quote long attributed to Winston Churchill: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”
With the emergence of technologies, our communication sure became easy, we can talk to people miles far away just with one click. But the more it became accessible, the more it reduced in quality. We have to work on our communication, not just for having a good job, but for having a good life. Most of our issues arise just because of a minor miscommunication. It is an integral part of our life which need to be addressed and upgraded. Talk less, listen more and be prepared to be amazed.
It’s Jabir… See you around.