And so… to get better at it
“Be optimistic about your ability to change,” says Sharp. “People can learn all sorts of new behaviour if they’re intent on it.” Treat conversation as an opportunity to learn. Try to become genuinely interested in the other person. “Moving your internal narrator to the back seat enables you to stay open-minded and non-judgmental,” Clarke says, “and keep your focus on the other person.”
In difficult conversations,
ask the other person if they’d be willing to time-box
your turns. Five minutes for them, five for you, no interruptions. Have the conversation standing up, to keep things moving. Avoid tough talks if you’re already on edge. And consider where you’re best able to listen: crowded bar or quiet kitchen.
Put your phone down.
Admit when you missed something. Practise noticing when you zone out, and why. Remember that becoming a better listener has a huge emotional pay-off. People like you. “Everyone just wants to tell their story,” Clarke says. “So let them.”