Do you have trouble listening? Really listening. I did for a long time.
Instead of listening intently to someone I was mostly thinking about what I would say when it came my turn.
My listening improved dramatically when I started reporting stories for a small town weekly newspaper.
It was a turning point in my writing life. And perhaps my personal life.
If you don’t listen to the person you are interviewing you have no story. And you must ask question after question to bring that story more fully out.
I got good at interviewing. The only way to get my story.
Now, I often ask strangers questions on all manner of things. Depends on what they are doing. Are they walking a dog? What breed? What’s its name? Did you adopt?
People love to talk about themselves. People become friendlier when you ask questions. You are interested in them. You are actually intercepting the thought process that you used to have before becoming a reporter.
I said how previously I was just waiting to talk about me when my turn came. When you interview you buy into that. People are waiting to say something about themselves.
Just ask. And listen. Get their story.
Not everyone has led an exciting life but everybody has had exciting moments in their life. Bring that out. Ask. And you’ll find yourself for once truly listening.
This photo is from the Krishnamurti Foundation America. https://www.kfa.org (external link)
Don’t know who Krishnamurti was? I have a little here but you can look him up anywhere. Certainly one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century.
“And for most of us, listening is one of the most difficult things to do. It is a great art, far greater than any other art. We hardly ever listen because most of us are so occupied with our own problems, with our own ideas, opinions — the everlasting chattering of one’s own inadequacies, fancies, myths, and ambitions. One hardly ever pays attention, not only to what another says but to the birds, to the sunset, to the reflection on the water. One hardly ever sees or listens. And if one knows how to listen — which demands an astonishing energy — then in that act of listening there is complete communion; the words, the significance of words, and the construction of words have very little meaning. So, you and the speaker have completely to share in the truth or in the falseness of what is being said. For most of us, it is a very difficult act to listen; but it is only in listening that one learns.”