It’s the season for holiday parties, and all of us can relate to being cornered by that one person who never stops talking. To be polite, you ask them a question or two and that’s all they need to launch into a one-sided conversation in which they provide you with information but never ask for any in return. You look around the party desperately for a way out, but nobody’s coming to save you – they’ve all been trapped by that individual themselves at some point in the past.
Think about it – you’ve almost certainly come home from a party or even a business meeting and said “that person talks too much.” On the other hand, nobody ever comes home and says “that person listens too much.”
That’s because we enjoy having conversations with people who ask questions, listen to our answers and then clearly put that information to work by including it in the exchange. Good communication is a partnership. If both parties actively listen to what the other is saying, they can contribute better information themselves. The resulting communication is more than the sum of its parts.
People who talk all the time may occasionally draw a crowd at a party, but watch what happens to that crowd when they stop making noise. Members of their audience turn back to those with whom they have a real relationship for real conversations.
In business, it’s tempting to tell customers all about a new product, for example. However, that communication is even more powerful if we fully understand why (or maybe even if) the product will help them to address their specific issues. That starts with hearing about their challenges, not telling them about the product’s features.
Be the person everybody wants to talk to by using two-way communication that both starts and ends with your partner. You’ll be a hit at holiday parties, and you’ll be more effective at helping those around you to succeed.