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Listen for Understanding and be Ready to be Amazed

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

By Dr. Linh Phung

Dr. Linh Phung and Ms. Marian Lien at World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh's Soiree

To have great conversations, practice these two strategies: listen for understanding and be ready to be amazed whenever you enter a conversation with someone.

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone that you gave full attention to and really enjoyed? What made that conversation so fulfilling?

These days, oftentimes, when we talk with others, we are distracted by our own thoughts or external notifications from our mobile devices. We do not fully pay attention to our conversation partner. In addition, even when we listen, our mind is so busy with trying to find a response or to form a judgment that we don't truly listen. One of the best skills we can develop to have better conversations is to listen attentively and listen for understanding without judgment or attempt to have to respond intelligently or humorously. We have to really want to hear the other person's experience and feelings.

This skill sounds easy, but it is not. It requires practice and mindfulness in conversations. One way to practice this is to arrange conversations where you take turns to talk. The next person in the talking circle can time the speaker. While one person talks, others listen attentively without interrupting. In these talking circles, you may ask simple questions such as: What's your favorite food? What's your favorite holiday? Let others talk for at least 1 minute each, and you'll learn so much about them.

Another really helpful attitude that you can adopt whenever you enter a conversation is to "be ready to be amazed" by what you will hear and learn from your conversation partner whether that's a friend of yours or a stranger. In my recent conversation with a woman from Palestine on the Eduling Speak app, I was so interested in learning about her family and how she found the app when she was looking for a way to improve her speaking skills. In another conversation on the app, I talked to a 9 year old from Vietnam, and was happy to hear him speak English with the encouragement of his mom close by. I felt so happy after each conversation.

So if you want to have better English speaking skills and great conversations and feel happier in your life, talk to people around you and practice the two strategies I've just shared. Try the Eduling Speak app (available on the App Store and Google Play), which now has more users and volunteers on the app to talk to you. Invite friends to join you on the app. Let's work together to build a community and culture of good conversations!

More information about Eduling Speak:

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