“And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still looking sad.”
— Luke [24:17]
QUESTIONS CREATE RECEPTIVITY
A client of mine was struggling to find employment. He was doing a great job getting interviews, but was failing in the interview process. Through conversations about what happened in each of the interviews, we determined that he wasn’t connecting with the interviewers. He was talking without creating receptivity. When asked a question by the interviewer that only required a short answer, he would belabor the point he was making. Further, he seldom asked the interviewer questions about his or her business. When he did, he was in a rush to state his next point. In talking about this, my client expressed that it was a lifelong problem and he knew he had to fix this issue.
“In asking questions, we give people a chance to talk and way to be affirmed.”
My client wasn’t creating receptivity. He forgot two key principles in all conversations. The first is that all people want to be heard. The second, that people like people who care about them. One of the best ways to recognize these principles is to ask questions and listen. In asking questions, we give people a chance to talk and way to be affirmed. We are also expressing interest in them and their company. When we express our interest in them, they in turn will become receptive to our points of view. We learn very little when we just talk. We begin the process of shutting the other person down when we talk too much. The person feels like he or she has limited value. In turn, the interview will end politely and no further communication will occur.
“By allowing the two men to talk, Jesus gave them the space to piece the events together. He allowed them to reconnect with him.”
Jesus meets two of his former disciples on their walk to Emmaus and asks them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They aren’t able to recognize him, because of their state of mourning from Jesus’s perceived death on the cross. Jesus uses questions to bring them to a point of recognition. He listens patiently. Later in the conversation, he continues to ask questions by saying, “What things?” Jesus continues to draw them out. He listens to them. By the time they get to Emmaus, Jesus has created a bond that compels the unseeing men to ask him to dinner. When they break bread at the meal, they recognize that it was Jesus they were talking with on the road. By allowing the two men to talk, Jesus gave them the space to piece the events together. He allowed them to reconnect with him. Jesus said very little, just a few questions and a statement, but it was all that was needed.
“Asking questions and letting others talk affirms them and in turn affirms us.”
When we engage in conversation, whether general conversation or in an interview, there are always at least two people present. Many of us want to make our points, to tell our side of the story. We want to be heard and accepted. So does the other person. Exercises I gave my client were to have four to five questions ready, and to answer questions crisply and ensure that the interviewer had the appropriate amount of time to speak. Asking questions and letting others talk affirms them and in turn affirms us.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Do we dominate conversations?
Is there more value in listening or talking?