Want to Be a Better Listener? Then Don’t Hijack the Conversation!

Bob Tiede has been on the staff of Cru for 46 years. He currently serves on the U.S. Leadership Development Team and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness. Bob is also an Author and Blogger. His free eBook “Great Leaders ASK Questions – A Fortune 100 List” (downloaded by leaders in over 100 Nations the first week it was released) is available for free download on his Blog: LeadingWithQuestions.com now in its 9th year and followed by Leaders in over 190 countries.

Has this ever been your experience:

You ask your friend: What have you been up to?

Your friend shares:  We just got back from Paris, France.

If you have been to Paris, France, what do you immediately want to tell your friend?

Of course – you want to tell your friend about your trip to Paris!

Can you recount times when your colleague or friend shared about something you too have experienced, and you instantly began to share your experience?

When you instantly start sharing your experience what are you doing?  YES – You Are Hijacking the Conversation!

Good Listeners do not hijack conversations!   It does not matter how many times you have been to Paris – it is not about you – it is about them – listening to their story about their trip to Paris and asking them to please tell you more!

Imagine this conversation:

You:  What have you been up to?

Friend:  We just got back from Paris, France!

You:  Wow!  Tell me about your trip?

Friend:  It was just my wife/husband and me.  We stayed in a wonderful hotel near the Eiffel Tower.  Of course, we went all over the city!  We went to the Louvre Museum and to Notre Dame Cathedral and the Arc de Triomphe and we walked and shopped on Champs-Élysées Avenue.  We also took a day trip to Normandy!

You:  Wow!  Sounds like you did it all!  Please tell me about your trip to Normandy.

Friend:  My Dad actually was a part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.   He landed on Omaha Beach – we went and walked the entire length of Omaha Beach – which is about 4 miles long.  And of course, we went to the cemetery.  It was really quite an emotional experience.

You:  Emotional?

Friend:  Yes – my dad shared that when the war was over it was several weeks before a ship was available to take him and his outfit back to the U.S.  During that time, he went to Normandy. The cemetery was already established, and he went and found the graves of his army buddies who had perished when they landed.  He also went and found the graves of boys from his hometown and took pictures of their graves so that he could then give those pictures to their parents – knowing they would likely never be able to travel to Normandy. My dad always shared that it seemed so unfair – he was going home, and these boys were never going home!  My dad made a commitment that day to live a life worthy of their sacrifice!  Just thinking that my dad had also walked this cemetery and remembering him sharing his experience there brought tears to my eyes!

You:  Wow!  Thank You for sharing that with me!

There is almost always something in every answer that you can ask about with your next question.


Of course, your friend provided you with so many possible topics you could ask more about:  Their hotel near the Eiffel Tower and/or their time at the Louvre Museum and/or at Notre Dame Cathedral and/or the Arc de Triomphe or shopping on Champs-Élysées Avenue.

But what would you have missed if you hadn’t asked your friend to tell you more about their day trip to Normandy?

Yes – You would have missed this incredible story about his/her Father’s visit to the Normandy Cemetery at the end of World War II.

But perhaps even more importantly you would have missed an opportunity to show genuine interest in your friend!

Good Listeners don’t’ hijack conversations!  Instead, they ask second and third and fourth questions.  There is almost always something in every answer that you can ask about with your next question.

“Being heard is so close to being loved they are almost indistinguishable.” David Augsburger

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