1. Whether you are religious or not, tell yourself that God is speaking to you through the other person.
2. Imagine yourself in a game with the following rule: "Whoever talks first loses."
Do you have ideas or best practices that improve the quality of your conversations? If so, please take a moment and leave a comment.
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Adding to the list:
3. Add trust by looking the person in the eye. You may want to decide how much you do it depending on what relationship the person has with you. Don't make your boss feel barbecued.
4. Talk with your body. Use gestures and expressions to add impact. Say "It was so high that..." with raised eyebrows and "Just a small bug..." with a holding-a-pin gesture.
6. React when listening. Helpful when you want to let the person know whether you agree or not. Nod, or cross your eyebrows periodically.
7. Stroke your chin or beard to *show* that you are pondering. (This holds good for business discussions)
8. After winning the "whoever talks first loses" game, ask a question instead of offering an opinion.
9. And don't forget to smile.
I had heard (see Amit's comment) that the stroking of the chin and/or obscuring the mouth may well be a sign of insincerity ;-)
10. Be honest, don't bull***t
11. Be curious and truly interested in what the other person thinks, feels and believes.
12. Be open and really listen. Don't judge. Don't assume.
Conversation is a dance. Depending on the context of the conversation, you will dance differently. Intellectual conversations and debates are going to flow differently from that of just gossip. They both have a their own Vibes and different sets of needs. Like dancing, if you calm your insides a little bit a feel the rhythm of the music, you can jump right in and respond intelligently and creatively with the demands of the situation.
Similar to #6:
Use the "yes, and" technique
Lots of people mistake this as saying you agree with what the other person is saying. But really, it's like sayine "Yes, I hear what you're saying. Because I hear what you're saying and respect you I want to tell you what I think."
For me, not being heard is the worst offense. I can deal with people who don't agree, as long as they listen to what I have to say.
Re-state what you have heard to prove that you have understood what the speaker is telling you. Then wait for confirmation.
The speaker may say, "Yes! Exactly!" or you may not have understood perfectly and the dialogue may open up. "Not exactly what I meant...."
mike houghton already said it but it's so simple and I never realized how effective it is: Ask questions! Ask about things that you would want to be asked because usually after their response they pass the question back to you.
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