Are you Listening – Part 2

This post is about the art of conversation. Most of what I do as a recruiter is engage in conversation, albeit sometimes in the form of an interview. When I’m interviewing candidates I’m mindful of their ability to listen/hear a simple question and respond with a succinct and direct answer. Interestingly, this turns out to be difficult for many people.

As a longtime improvisational performer and a person who enjoys talking, I know the pitfalls of talking too much. One of my improv coaches once told me to strive for a more “elegant” use of language. This has stuck with me whether I am on the the stage or performing my professional role as a businesswoman and executive recruiter. A more elegant use of language in conversation requires a great deal of attention and focus on “the other.”

How can we learn this skill? By listening. By slowing down and being mindful. It requires that we “create conversation.”

All too often candidates want to say what it is that they want to say, irregardless of the question being asked or the information that the interviewer is seeking. This way of conversing impedes rapport and the opportunity for two people – an interviewer and a candidate – to build a relationship. We can talk as a way of creating distance or we can take the time to thoughtfully respond to a question as a way of letting the other “see” us and learn something about our sensibilities, experiences and abilities.

There is an art to creating conversation – in our living room or at the office. As human beings we can perform conversation. We can perform listening. When we allow ourselves to engage in the art of creating conversation, who knows what we will discover and what new possibilities will emerge. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find enjoyment in this self-conscious, relational, creative activity. (And it’s a lot more fun than “interviewing” for a job!)