While listening to friends telling me about something they were very excited about, I realized how easy it is to know when anyone is really interested in the subject at hand.
My friends' words tumbled after each other so breathlessly that it was fascinating to be the listener. I can't remember the subject, but I remember the enthusiasm.
Being a good conversationalist is, in great part, being a good listener. I enjoyed knowing that my friends were so into the topic that they felt real enthusiasm. I had nothing to contribute but rapt attention. It was enough.
I can feel the change in myself when I am talking about something I am really interested in, can't you? I'm realizing it is universal. If we simply pay attention to the people we are with at any given moment, we'll recognize when the spark of true interest is lit.
It is in the sharing of enthusiastic moments
that friendship, often intimacy, grows.
When we give up that awful urge to ponder our response instead of paying attention to another's point, we are richly rewarded.
Long ago I knew that I don't need someone to agree with me; I just need them to listen and understand what I am saying. I want to accord the same courtesy to others.
There is little more satisfying than an enthusiastic exchange of information - or of talent. Watching someone do something they love to do with great excitement is also gratifying. It can be paying attention to a child anxious to show us he can stand on his hands or listening to a friend's piano concerto. If we give our full attention when someone is sharing whatever is really important to them; it is magic.
If you've ever been with someone who pontificates - and I certainly have - you also know about the opposite of having someone care what you have to share. It is demoralizing.
Most of the time most people are not even aware when they occupy center stage more than their fair share of the time. Extroverts can be enthusing far more than their introverted partners, for instance, with no mal intent whatsoever. But introverts can be drawn out and it is worth the effort.
The best manners will lead all of us into popularity. All we need to do is listen for excitement!
Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.
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