People are fascinating and they all have their unique stories to tell. Most people want to tell you all about themselves, but what if you need to know more about someone whether it is during a job interview, your daughter’s fiancée, or someone you can help if you have more information? How do you help someone tell a story and open up?
During forty years of teaching, it was part of my job to learn to listen well and that is the first step in learning more about a person. Ask a simple question and give the person your attention as he answers. Don’t interrupt or finish the sentence, just listen.
Be aware of the vibe of a person. Some people’s body language screams their personality. You can tell if they are timid, extroverted, moody, or energetic before they even open their mouths. Knowing the personality can help you know how to start the conversation.
Be aware of your own body language. If you want someone to talk with you, be relaxed and completely turned towards the person. Look as if you are interested in what the person is about to say.
Use silence to encourage the other person to speak. We often try to fill in silence, but if you wait a minute before you ask another question or add a comment, the person speaking will add more information.
Repeat the person’s statement in a question. An example would be if the person said, “In five years, I would like to be a manager.” You say, “So, in five years, you want to be a manager?” The person will add onto the information.
Enjoy finding out about the people around you as they tell their stories.