?There should be a charge for talking?, it is an expression that a friend of mine repeats frequently; perhaps it is because he is used to hearing all kinds of conversations from behind a bar. I always smile at his comments and take the chance to remark upon how important it is to talk when it comes to communicating, connecting with each other and for sharing ideas and feelings.

His expression came to my mind while listening to an English podcast, a habit I have developed in order to improve my listening skills. The podcast was an interesting and concise Tedtalk about how to have great conversations. Besides the speaker listing ten ideas about how to have a good conversation, she also points out that it is necessary to learn to listen to the other person.

But before going further, what is a good conversation? Indeed, it is not one that focuses on the weather, but one that engages and inspires us, that makes us feel that we have made a real connection or one that has been perfectly understood. A good conversation requires a balance between talking and listening, and the later one is perhaps the most difficult for us.

Listening doesn?t mean adhering to the advice about active listening known to all of us; on the contrary it only requires being present and paying real attention, opening our minds and being interested in other people by allowing them to amaze us. It means not being tempted to tell the person speaking that the same thing happened to you. Listening implies an effort at concentrating but we tend to get distracted. Interesting conversation can be had with people from all backgrounds, no matter the ideas or beliefs that they have, if we know how to listen.

This is not the first time that the topic of conversation has appeared in my posts (Big talk,? Listen to the heart), however I wanted to share a different point of view with you. Thinking about myself I realized that listening is not my strong point, so improving my listening skills is a good challenge for this year.

How are your conversations? Have you ever stopped and thought about them? Do you listen as much as you talk?

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