Silence is Golden

We talk about presenting, speaking and performing but do we ever stop to consider the other side of the equation? How about listening?

Today I interviewed a 16 year old girl for a place in a UK school. I asked her questions, she responded and I listened. In return, she asked me questions and I responded. Rather than listening, she said "yes" every two minutes. Now, there are many ways to interpret this. If I want to be generous, I could say that this was a way of showing that she was listening (although it is tricky to listen if you are speaking at the same time) Alternatively, I could assume that I was being tedious and she already knew everything I was about to say (also possible) The third interpretation is that she wasn't listening, just waiting for me to stop talking so she could speak again. Irrespective of the interpretation, my impression of her was that she valued her own opinions above mine.

Active listening is a skill. You hear, process and respond to comments rather than just waiting for a gap in the conversation. That way, you can tailor your response to the other person.

Presentations and interview are non one way conversations, they are dialogues. Develop active listening skills and you may find that the burden of being the centre of the universe is lifted from your shoulders.

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