This might not be a question you have asked yourself before. We certainly know what other people are like to talk to - what about ourselves?
One of the marks of great leadership is being brilliant to talk to. These kinds of leaders understand who they are and have a strong understanding of who others are.
Many people call this emotional intelligence (EI). EI enables us to display empathy and connect with people quickly, which in turn builds meaningful relationships that are life-giving.
If we want to become someone that is even better to talk to, it is worth considering how we build attention, connection, and affection. Let us consider each in turn.
When you are talking to someone, do they have your full attention? Are you fully present and in the moment, not only physically, but emotionally too?
Giving others our undivided attention is not only a way of showing respect but also allows for a more enjoyable and profitable conversation. Giving someone our attention is an intentional way of displaying that this person (acquaintance or friend) is important and valued.
You do not have to be an egotist to appreciate people giving you attention. Attention ought to be a common courtesy and something that makes an enormous difference to conversation, especially in a hurried world where attention spans are ever shortening.
Attentive listening is a key skill in leadership. Consider asking yourself who the spotlight is on when you are in conversation. Brilliant conversationalists do not make it all about themselves!
A lot of the words we speak fail to have an impact, because they never land. This is often because gaps are never bridged. Connection is a vital skill needed, to be in a meaningful conversation with someone. Connection begins by showing genuine respect for and interest in another person. It also builds relational capital and is often a foundation to fall back on, in situations of conflict. Connection enables us to share with others with, greater authenticity and vulnerability.
We must also not forget that two people do not have to agree to experience a connection. They just must know that the other person cares. Body language is a key player in this dynamic.
The way we carry ourselves, the use of our physical presence, facial expressions, and hand gestures all play a role in showing and supporting connection.
For this you must also consider what you already do well. Where is there room for growth? Working hard to set up meaningful connection is the second step to becoming brilliant to talk to.
Affection in this context refers not to liking or loving another person but about following that person’s affections in conversations: what excites them, moves them, motivates them, saddens them?
Following the other person’s affections is what helps them leave the conversation feeling valued. Affection is not a display of sympathy (“I know how you feel”) but a display of empathy (“I feel for how you feel”).
Whilst it is true that people may not leave a conversation remembering everything you said, they will always remember how you made them feel.
Overall, being brilliant to talk to involves attention, connection, and affection.
You might consider wanting further support to do this. The C-me Communication and Conflict Workshop could be just the resource you need to help you get even better. More information on this is available below!