The Sound of Silence

You have a grand gift for silence, Watson. It makes you quite invaluable as a companion. – Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes)

Twenty years ago, I scheduled a lunch to introduce two of my friends that had never met. It was a pleasant afternoon, full of good conversation and laughter, but there was one aspect of it that I found unusual and of particular interest.

Within the space of an hour, one of my friends found out things about the other that I had never discovered. Her talent for conversation impressed me then, and years later, I still admire it. She seems to know exactly the right questions to ask; gentle inquiries that uncover the very things people love to talk about or have a passion for- things that bring you true insight into their character. She does more than just put people at ease; you can actually see someone light up as they talk to her. It’s a joy to watch.

For a long time, I attributed this phenomenon to an uncanny ability to draw people out with the perfect topics of conversation. That’s partly true, but over time, I’ve discovered there’s more to her talent.

She also knows how and when to be quiet in conversation.

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