Admit it: Who doesn’t want to be the most interesting person in the room?
Achieving this distinction requires listening skills above all others, says Antonio Neves, a speaker, author, and journalist who addressed the 2019 CUNA National Young Professionals Conference in Madison, Wis.
That key is repeating what others tell you in conversation. Neves cites this study that shows wait staff receive bigger tips when they repeat customers’ orders.
Neves offers this example:
Speaker 1: “When I got home last night, I found our dishwasher had a major leak.”
Speaker 2: “A leak?”
Speaker 1: “The whole kitchen and dining room are covered in water.
Speaker 2: “Water?”
Speaker 1: “Yeah, it’s going to cost me thousands of dollars in damages.”
Speaker 2: “Thousands of dollars?”
“Just by repeating what the other person says, you learn the person has thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to their home,” Neves says. “If you just say ‘sorry,’ the conversation is over. You’ve shown no consideration for that person’s situation.”
Read more coverage from the CUNA Young Professionals Conference.
Another low-level listening skill many people employ is to turn the conversation back to themselves, such as, “That’s never happened to me” or “I’ve never experienced that.”
Similarly, that response fails to consider the other person’s perspective or move the conversation forward, Neves says.
Neves, who has conducted thousands of interviews during his time as a journalist, says silence can be a catalyst for information-sharing.
“If you allow some silence after the answer, the person may share some more with you than they would have otherwise,” he says.
Mirroring others shows empathy and creates a connection that wouldn’t otherwise be possible, Neves adds.
“When you use the repeating technique, that person will think you’re amazing is because you allowed that person to be heard,” he says. “That just doesn’t happen often in this era of social media and cell phones. It’s what we need at home and in the workplace right now.”