Accent's Way Magazine

#126

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How to be a Great Conversation Partner

I have a confession to make.
For many years, I’ve felt like I have nothing meaningful to say.
That I was boring, unintelligent and I have no idea what’s going on in the world.
I felt that every time I would start a conversation, heavy fog would cover my brain, and I couldn’t articulate my thoughts clearly.
And to be honest, I still feel that sometimes.

Because of that, I made a subconscious decision of speaking as little as possible in any given situation, especially in English.
I would speak, yes. But I became the best person to speak TO.

I developed wise and subtle skills to deflect any question, ​turn it around, and get other people to speak.
I became an excellent listener ​so I don’t have to do all the talking.
And you know what, I really enjoyed it.

Over the years, this skill has turned me into a good teacher as I easily get my students to talk.
But also, by doing this, I have learned so much about people and behaviors that I started having things to say about almost anything.
And now, I really can’t shut up.

Sometimes, we, as speakers of English as a second language, are so preoccupied with what we are going to say, how to say it, what tense to use and what word to choose, that we forget to listen and be a part of the conversation.

In this week’s blog I am sharing with you five tips that will make you a better conversation partner, and as a result improve your conversation skills, speaking skills, and confidence.

TRANSCRIPT

Hey, it’s Hadar. And this is The Accent’s Way, speaking to you from YouTube Space, Berlin. How fun is that?

I wanted to give you a few tips today on how to be a great conversation partner. It’s very important to be a great speaker, especially when you speak a foreign language, but it’s also extremely important to be a great conversation partner, to be a good listener.

Sometimes we’re so preoccupied with what we’re going to say, what words we need to use, being afraid of getting stuck that we forget to be a good conversation partner. We forget to listen. We forget to communicate, to really communicate.

So, I want to give you a few tips to remind you what makes a great conversation partner, and what you can do every day with people you speak to. And of course, it could be in your native tongue and in English. To be a better listener, to be a better partner.

First, make it about them. It takes the edge off of you so you don’t have to always speak. And also, people like to talk about themselves. People like when others are interested in what they have to say in their lives. Ask them questions, ask them real questions. Try to be the one leading the conversation by getting the other person to speak. Really be interested in what they have to say. Make it about them, not about you.

Number two. Look them in the eyes. Don’t look away, don’t look at your freaking phone, don’t look at your watch. Look them in the eyes. If you feel embarrassed, if you feel it’s too much, look at their mouth, but make sure that they see that you are looking at them and not elsewhere.

Even though you’re listening, they don’t know that you’re listening. If you’re looking away, okay? It doesn’t feel safe, and people don’t want to keep on talking if no one’s listening to them. It makes them feel funny and weird, and it turns you into a bad conversation partner.

Of course, you can look away every now and then, but always go back to their face. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy the conversation more because you won’t think of other things. It will force you to actually listen to them. And hopefully, they’ll say something interesting.

My next tip is: the strong connection is in the details. If it’s someone that is not new to you that you’ve spoken with before, a friend, a colleague, client. Remember things from your previous conversation. Even take a mental note of the simple things: his daughter’s name, her experience in the last flight over here. Remember small details and bring them up in the next conversation.

When you remember the small details and you bring it up in the next conversation, ask a question about it, it will really touch them, it will move them. They’ll feel that you actually listened, that you remembered something about them. It is so meaningful to people to feel what they said mattered. Even if it’s a simple thing. Especially, if it’s a simple thing. We all remember big things, big events, but the small things, the small things really make all the difference. So, remember the small things and remember to bring it up in the next conversation.

Don’t bitch about other people’s behaviors. “Oh, look at him, how he eats. Oh my God. He’s taking all the food from the buffet”. “Oh my God, look at her. What is up with her hair?” I mean, you don’t know who this person you’re speaking with. Maybe they’re doing the same thing, and maybe that’s going to make them feel super uncomfortable.

It happened to me once. I was speaking to this woman and she started talking about all these women that do this, this and that, and I was like, “Hmm, that’s what I do”. And it made me feel uncomfortable, and it made me feel like I don’t want to be her friend. And you know what? We ended up not being friends.

So, let me tell you this, even if you feel strongly about something, keep it to yourself if you don’t know the person well. You don’t know where they’re coming from, you don’t know how they’re going to feel. And when you judge other people, they will feel that you will judge them easily as well.

So be careful with how might you bitch about other people. Although it may be a funny conversation topic. You know, you can find other funny conversation topics to talk about. And anyway, speaking badly about other people is not a good habit anyway.

Respect and appreciate silence. Don’t fill in every single moment of silence. Don’t feel like you have to speak really quickly. When someone says something, don’t jump in and speak immediately after they’re done. Let it sink, give it a moment, take a breath.

When you jump in and say what you have to say without taking any pause after what the other person just said, it looks like you are just not listening to them. Like you were waiting for the moment you could just jump in and speak, like it’s all about what you have to say.

To show that you’re actually listening to other people, you have to give a time, take a breath, and then say what you have to say. Even though you know exactly what you need to say and you’ve been waiting to say it for a while. So, respect silence and understand it’s a meaningful and essential part of the conversation, in-between sentences, and just silence, as is. Just like that.

Okay. That’s it. I hope you liked it. It was a bit of a different video, but these are things that I’ve been thinking about lately. And I think that in order to be a good speaker, you definitely have to be a good listener, a great listener, a fantastic listener, right? That’s more important than anything else.

And then you are able to hear things, to notice things, and to really connect and communicate. And it doesn’t matter how well you speak English. If you can listen, if you can ask questions, people would love speaking to you. And it’s extremely important when it comes to work relationships, and of course, to personal relationships.

Okay. So leave me a comment below. Tell me what other things you think can turn you into a great conversation partner, and what are the things that you’re still struggling with? Let me know and let’s start a conversation right there in the comments below.

Thank you so much for watching. If you like this video, please share it with your friends. And if you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, click on the Subscribe button and on the bell to get notifications, so you know when I upload a new video.

Have a wonderful week, full of communication and conversation. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.


The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
41. Improve Your Communication Skills By Learning How To Listen
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17 Responses

  1. Dear Hadar,

    What can I say? youre the best!

    You know what— I think I am a good listener.

    I also like the comments of the other learners.All of you feel like my friends in this new

    country.

    Rika

  2. Hi Hadar, it was a great video, THANK YOU!
    I just wanted to add that sometimes when I get stuck in the middle of the sentence, I find it helpful to say that I can’t remember the word, and the other person tries to help. So asking for help is great and creates less anxiety 🙂

  3. In my work, in a little town not far from my city, Tarija, (building a bridge for a road), none of my coworkers speak English. Nevertheless I try practice to speak alone, with my phone and mi computer pc. And your tips are very truly to me, so I appreciate it very much.

  4. I’M ASKING MYSELF WHAT GOOD DID I DO THAT I AM GETTING FROM YOU SO MUCH GOOD ADVICE, AND FOR FREE?

  5. Hello Hadar. You are the best Teacher I seen. I am happy when I see your videos ’cause I learn a lot.
    Thank you so mucho.

  6. Hi Hadar,
    Thanks for your tips…. I loved the video!!
    I have two questions for you, how to pronounce the word “natural” and how to link the end “ing” with “it” when you are speaking, for example: Giving it. Please make a video about it.

    Thanks a lot….. you are the best teacher!
    Luz.

  7. Hi Hadar ! I feel I have to comment again my own first one because it is not relevant to your important question. I think our first reaction by meeting someone we hadn’t met before is some sort of unconscious anxiety. This may disturb our self-confidence and may inhibit our conversation. There are a lot of other unconscious feelings by any personal transactions influencing the dynamics and style of conversations. E.g. we may unconsciously regard much younger or even more elderly persons as less competent than we are. That will result in our propensity to be condescending in our conversation. I have found that in any good conversation it is absolutely important the EQUALITY (!!!) of the partners talking to each other. E.g. when young male and female partners engage in conversation it may happen that an unconscious superiority feeling in the male one disturbs the conversation. For good conversation anyone can find many hints in the well-readable book of Eric Berne (I’m sure many of us have met it): “Games People Play”
    Excuse me for the long comment ! Laszlo

  8. Hi Hadar thank you so much really valuable guidelines.I mostly speak positive and good vibes talk but I surely need to be a good listener on which I need to work on . Thank you so much again I will pay attention towards it

  9. hello,Haddar .Actually ,it happens to me when I speak in English that I got stuck though I possess enough vocabulary to speak.Thank you for for these useful tips.

  10. Thank you, Hadar for the great video.
    When I conducted a scientific experiment (often by night with few not talkative assistants or alone) I preferred silence.
    When I exercised my second profession, psychiatry I mostly used the “talk therapy” (e.g. Victor Frankl, I.D. Yalom, Rollo May…). So, I had been engaged in talking but that was perhaps a most special way of talking. That is a kind of professional speech.
    Like I used a professional language when I delivered a lecture at an international scientific meeting (in English of course).
    But I’m not sure that engaged in everyday talking I had been always good (Even not by using my native language).
    So, I agree we have to learn to speak or not to speak up to the end of our life. Laszlo

  11. Hi, dear Hadar! Thank you for your tips. They are really helpful, but my problem is, that I’m a too good listener. My conversation partners usually are talkative persons who speak without stopping and I’m who is a listener. It might be related to my low self-confidence in English? :)))

  12. I think Hadar has said it all.
    In addition to that, we should avoid interpreting negatively others conversation. It is very important to add some words while others speaking. These words fuel the other’s speaking. These word are: really? I see, wow etc. We should cultivate the way to ask small question as well.
    Another thing is as much as possible, to summarize the conversation at the end. This make the speaker fell he has been listened actually.

  13. To be a good speaker.
    Listening .taking notice.knowing more vocabulary
    Learning more and more
    Also don’t forget study grammar

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