Paying Attention During a Conversation Matters

Stop getting lost during mid-conversation

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

Having a conversation sounds so simple yet it can be so hard to deal with at times. Different factors play into whether a conversation is going well or if it’s going bad.

A few of these factors can be external like talking in the middle of bad weather, talking in a loud environment, and even talking when in a busy environment. All of these external factors can make conversations rushed and come to an end fast.

No one ever leaves the conversation fully satisfied, it even comes to a point where you start to think about how unnecessary the conversation was.

Next, you have internal factors that can cause a conversation to go good or bad. You may not be confident in how you appear, your opinions, and even what you say.

These factors usually cause a conversation to get awkward and come to end fast as well too. Neither person is comfortable in this situation and you may regret having that conversation in the first place.

One thing that anyone can do to prevent a conversation from ending too fast or losing its momentum is to simply pay attention. A lot easier said than done but paying attention is what most people fail to do during a conversation.

Let’s say you’re at the beach and you see one of your old friends from middle school. They try to start a conversation with you but it’s awkward and it’s such a surprise that you try to keep the conversation short and concise.

What you failed to do here is to pay attention, instead of just saying “mhm’ when the person speaks to you, you weren't listening for certain cues for you to respond to.

Instead, you let your mind get the best of you and you think about how you guys used to be friends and how much you’ve changed during the years. Be in the present and listen to what that person has to say because they may be opening up a door for you to rekindle that friendship.

Listen For Key Words

Conversations can last for a long time and people will talk to you for a long time if you let them. Some people like to have someone to talk to and some are just naturally talkative. You need to know the kind of person you’re talking to and be able to adapt to the situation.

If you’re talking to someone who’s just as shy as you, then you need to control the conversation and put it in a place where you’re both comfortable. If you’re talking to someone who likes to talk a lot then you may need to put a time limit for how long you’re going to let the conversation go down.

Even if you’re trying to avoid someone who you know talks a lot, hear them out at first to see what they have to say. These people don’t only know how to talk but they know to share wisdom and get their point across as well.

Do yourself a favor and let the conversation go on for a little bit longer than you anticipated it to be. Listen for keywords while the conversation is going on to pick up on what the person is saying.

You don't have to understand every single thing they’re saying but you can get a good summary of the interaction by just hearing certain words that the person is saying.

These keywords are usually emphasized by the person speaking because they know those words are what’s most important in the conversation. For example, if someone is having a conversation with you about money, they may make an emphasis on words like “currency,” “revenue,” and “investing.”

Words like this give you a good grasp of what the conversation is about and you can start to ask yourself questions while the conversation is going on to make sure you can understand and agree on what the person is saying.

These questions you ask yourself to keep you interested in the conversation and make the interaction go from overwhelming to calming very easily.

Ask Your Own Questions

Now that you’ve started asking questions to yourself, you can ask questions to the person you’re speaking to. Asking questions is a hack that anyone can use to make a conversation go from boring to entertaining.

Don’t start asking questions immediately when the conversations start, gather the information that makes sense to you, and ask questions that are actually worth asking.

Of course, you’re going to ask those questions at the beginning of the conversation that breaks the ice like “How you been?’ Or “How’s your day going” just to see where the person stands with you and their own personal life.

The questions are actually important because they show that you know how to have small talk and when enough effort is put into the small talk, a deeper conversation is made.

As the conversation gets deeper and deeper you can start asking questions to the person you’re talking to about something you don’t understand. Many people are afraid to ask these questions because they don’t want to come off as someone who wasn't paying attention or someone who is not knowledgeable.

This is why you were listening to the conversation in the first place, you don’t have to understand everything that person was saying when speaking to them.

They don’t expect you to, which is why they want to keep talking to you. Asking questions shows them that you’re engaged and that you’re actually listening.

Everyone is guilty of losing their train of thought during a conversation because of something distracting them. Sometimes a conversation is boring and you start to think about the things going on in your life, it happens.

In order to not dose off into la-la land, you can ask questions about certain points you understand. Also when you ask questions, you’re building that into a skill that you can use for your next conversation. Don’t go into a conversation as a know it all, go into expecting to learn something new about the person you are conversing with.

Photo by Simone Secci on Unsplash

Learn From the Conversation

Conversations are meant to happen and they contain a lot of valuable information. Having an open mind when entering a conversation is so important because if you neglect everything that someone has to say then you won’t learn anything.

You have two ears to listen and only one mouth to speak, what does that tell you? Be that person in a conversation that listens to everything and gives their opinion about only a few things because if you rebuttal with everything that person is saying they’ll lose respect for you.

They are there to teach you something whether they’re younger or older and they’re taking time out of their day to do that. Have some respect and just listen so that you can use that information to your advantage in the long run.

Be accepting of new theories and new beliefs because you can't be afraid to question yourself. It’s okay to disagree as well but don’t make it so obvious to the point where that person doesn't want to interact with you anymore.

Make sure you really pay attention during the next conversation you have because those words of wisdom can change your life for the better. Have an open mind and look at the world from a different light. I’ll leave you with a quote from Andrew Solomon that says

“I believe that words are strong, that they can overwhelm what we fear when fear seems more awful than life is good.”

A young adult who’s writing is geared towards self-improvement and self care. “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”

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