On Monday I had the great pleasure of meeting my sister for lunch. It’s not something we do as often as we’d like, but when it works out, I always enjoy the experience. The reason lunches, or other outings with her are so much fun is because my sister is one of the best conversationalists I know. During our recent outing, my sister’s example reminded me again what makes someone a great conversationalist.
Some of the attributes of a great conversationalist include:
- They are attentive. Great conversationalists are present in the conversation. They are not looking at their smart phones or staring off over your shoulder to see what else is going on. They are looking at you and giving you their full attention. In our technology tethered world, I think that our attention is one of the greatest gifts we can give another person.
- They are great listeners. Great conversationalists are willing to wait during a silent pause so the other person can finish a thought or think about what they want to say. They don’t interrupt in mid-sentence to change the topic, nor do they feel the need to dominate the conversation with their own monologue. Instead, they actively listen to what the other person is saying.
- They bring something to the conversation. Great conversationalists don’t just sit there silently through the whole conversation, but rather they bring their own positive thoughts and insights into the discussion. They ask clarifying questions, share ideas, and even challenge assumptions, all with the intent of gaining a deeper understanding of the topic and the other person’s perspectives.
- They care. Great conversationalists care about the person(s) they are talking with and demonstrate that by not judging them, and by creating a safe and trusted environment where people can talk freely and feel they are actually being heard and understood.
What a gift it is to be in the presence of a great conversationalist!
If you want to be a blessing to someone practice the attributes of great conversationalists the next time you are visiting with someone and see how it positively impacts the conversation. It’s a skill that will yield more gratifying conversations and deeper relationships with others.