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10 Guaranteed Ways to Never Run Out of Blog Post Ideas (#5)

Missed the first posts in this series? Check them out here.

#5 Listen Intently

One the best ways to challenge your brain and have an never-ending stream of ideas and inspiration is to become a student of life. All of life can be a classroom — if we’re a willing learner.

Everyone — no matter who they are — can teach you something. And most people can teach you amazing things, if you’ll only but listen.

I’m not one who is usually short on words (I’m pretty sure my family would readily attest to that, too!), but when I am intentional about listening and asking good questions, I’m always amazed at how much I learn.

Focus on the Other Person

Most people really like to talk about themselves and their interests. The trick is to fully focus on whomever you are talking to, be genuinely interested, and to find out what gets them fired up and excited.

If I meet someone for the first time and I don’t have any background or context for that person, I’ll often say, “Tell me about yourself.” This is one of my favorite ways to open up a conversation with someone I don’t know — and you never know where it will lead!

I’ve learned about tragedies, triumphs, health issues, a person’s dreams and hopes, and so many other fascinating things as a result of this simple question. It’s extremely open-ended but it rarely fails to produce an interesting discussion with just about everyone.

Put Away Your Phone

If you want to have a meaningful conversation, you’ve got to stop multi-tasking. Don’t be texting another friend, checking Facebook or Twitter, or searching for something on the internet.

I love the efficiency that smartphones have brought into my life. But, on the flipside, I despise how we’re unable to disconnect from the noise so we can really listen to what someone else is saying.

If you need to be on your phone when in the middle of a conversation, explain why and take care of whatever it is you need to do. Then, turn it off and turn your attention fully to the person in front of you.

Ask Followup Questions

As another person is talking, listen carefully for interesting tidbits that you want to probe deeper into. I’m always amazed at how many things I learn just by asking questions that springboard from a statement someone makes.

Don’t be shy — even if you don’t really know much at all about what a person is interested in, you can still learn so much. In fact, sometimes it’s more fun to talk to someone who has little knowledge of a subject but immense interest.

Reiterate Their Statements

I’m constantly asking why and forever prodding to get to the root of why a person responds a certain way, feels a certain way, or believes a certain way. One of the things I find is really helpful is to reiterate what I just heard someone say to me to make sure I understood and then to ask a followup question. “So you’re saying such and such, do you think that’s because of so and so?”

You might be completely off-base or maybe you misunderstood, so reiterating someone’s statements and then asking a followup question is a great way to make sure you’re both on the same page, to engage in a good conversation, and to never run out of interesting things to talk about!

By putting forth effort to listen and discuss things in-depth with others, not only is my brain expanded, but I also often come away with new ideas for blog posts or series as a result of these conversations!

What are your best suggestions for becoming a better listener? I’d love to hear!

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  • Jo Lynn says:

    For a long time I thought I was a good listener until I realized I was often thinking how I was going to respond, what I was going to say next while the person I was talking with was talking. Doing that made me really miss a lot of what the person was saying and also kept me from making genuine connections. Once I started making it a point to focus on the person (like you mentioned in your post) and really pay attention to what and how they were saying something, and focusing less on myself (how I appeared to them, if what I was going to say was appropriate, intelligent etc) my listening abilities greatly increased and my ability to make more genuine connections increased also.

    • Leah says:

      Put away your phone-Yes!!! This is wonderful advice!! I personally detest smartphones because I find nothing quite so irritating as when I’m trying to visit with someone who is staring at their phone, surfing facebook or texting while I’m trying to talk to them. I know a lot of people probably have no clue how rude they are being, but nothing says ‘I could care less about this conversation or visiting with you’ then pulling out your phone and staring at it every few minutes during a conversation. If you really want to spend all of your time on the internet, don’t invite people to visit or accept invitations to do so. 🙂

      • Leah says:

        Oops! That was meant to be a reply to the blog post, not the prior comment!

      • Kim M says:

        I wholeheartedly agree! I can’t stand when my in-laws come up, which draws in the rest of the family, and they all sit around the table texting or surfing their phones!! It is exceedingly rude, but they don’t seem to even notice!

    • Crystal says:

      I love this! Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Karyn says:

    Hi Crystal I am really enjoying these, thank you! I can’t seem to find parts 3 or 4 – not sure how to find them. Thanks! Karyn

  • Yes, yes, yes! When I started blogging, I was reading Rachelle Gardner and Michael Hyatt’s blogs, and they both pointed out that everybody’s favorite subject is themselves. People aren’t being selfish; it’s just that everybody wants to be loved, and they feel loved and cared for when you care about them and want to hear what they have to say.

    I really had never thought of it that way befoe, but this has really been coming in handy lately, not only with blogging. I’m starting a writers’ guild at my church right now, and many of the people in it outrank me in many ways. It would be easy to be intimidated by them. But instead, I’ve been asking them to lunch and asking them to just tell me all about themselves and their writing, and people just open up and gush. It’s not intimidating at all when I just focus on them, and we’re forming beautiful new friendships. Just because I cared enough to want to listen to them.

    I heard someone say recently, “If you’re lonely, just think of all the people out there who would love to have just one friend, and go and be their friend.” Caring about other people more than ourselves can solve all kinds of problems.

    (I tried to comment earlier, but something went wrong with my browser, so please forgive if this comment posts more than once.)

  • As a new blogger I really appreciate the time you spend helping others who blog Crystal. Thanks for all you do!

  • Carla says:

    A good listener has good eye contact and listens with their heart, to the possible emotion in which someone is sharing something. I also will often end a conversation by asking the person if there is anything else they want to talk about, or if there is anything else I can do for them. I am speaking here as a hospice volunteer, in an inpatient unit, but I think we can use these ideas in many other settings. Oh, and use their name. In the beginning of the conversation, to help you (me) not forget it, and at the end of the conversation because it helps them to realize you care enough to remember their name! I have been guilty before of hearing a name, not trying to remember it, and forgetting it.

    • Crystal says:

      Such great advice! Thank you for commenting.

    • Anna says:

      I love your point about using people’s names. It really does mean a lot. When others use my name I always notice, and I need to be better about using other people’s names. People aren’t just a bunch of “You”s.

    • Mary Bond says:

      This is good…eye contact! Eyes say a lot. But, it also puts you at ease. You need not feel less important or under fortunate when you’re sharing through your eyes…

  • Lora says:

    What great ideas Crystal! I love the conversation ideas and can really use them. I’m quite introverted, until I get to know you, so this is really helpful. I’m going to share it with my daughters as well. One of their common complaints is, “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know them very well.” This will help them tremendously.

    I recently read a book and often thought of you while reading it. It was a quick read (I did it in 3 hours), but very helpful. It was, “The Myth of Multitasking: How “Doing It All” Gets Nothing Done, by Dave Crenshaw. I found it quite helpful.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m an introvert by nature, too, so these things have really helped me. I’m glad you’ve found it helpful, as well.

      And thank you for the book recommendation! I just added it to my books to read list and can’t wait to check it out!

      • Lora says:

        I have been watching the books you have been reading and have been expanding my horizons into books I wouldn’t normally read. I never thought of reading a business book, because ya know, I’m just a mom. 😉 Expanding into those types of books is really helping me and giving me some good ideas. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  • I can agree with and relate to the point about putting your phone (tablet, turning your computer off or even putting down that glossy magazine) part. Its not only annoying but the one doing the talking feels belittled and clamps up. I agree with most commentators here, listening is being there mind, body and soul…look directly into the other person, listen to his words as well as his body language…also utilize your body language in conversation, nod, hold a hand, squeeze, a pat on the back…be there and make the other person feel like the center of your universe.
    And yes, if you listen to people that intensely, they will really open up to you and therein lies the pool of ideas!

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