Stated simply, there are three main points of listening and asking: (1) using the words said by the other party to continue the conversation (like the Japanese word game shiritori), (2) facts, and (3) imagination. If even one of these points can be incorporated into the continuous process of listening and asking, the conversation will develop a rhythm, expand, and deepen. Now, let's look at each of the main points.
All Japanese people have played shiritori since they were children. The main key point consists of repeating the key words said by the other party, similar to playing a game of shiritori. In addition to helping you understand the important themes of the conversation, it also impresses the other party by those words and helps develop the conversation.
The main points regarding facts are nothing more than asking for specific facts. For example, where and how something was done, and what conditions existed at that time. Asking for specifics makes conversation easier for the other party and helps to clarify the contents of the conversation.
Imagination is essential to expand and deepen the conversation. This technique consists of grasping the main flow of the conversation and engaging in metaphors or examples--"it's almost like the relationship between parents and children," "it's as if you were an artist," "it seems as if you are in charge," "she almost resembles a mother figure," etc. This kind of imagination will make the other party feel that their point is being understood and will increase their motivation towards the conversation. As a result, the conversation will grow more animated and deeper. However, becoming able to skillfully use metaphors and comparisons requires daily effort. Furthermore, in terms of imagination, it is also important to consider the meaning of your metaphors and comparisons, and what can be gained from using imagination.
Now, let's look at an actual conversation as an example.
The theme of this conversation is the passion of Person B at the current point in time.
◆Mr. A: Ms. B, what are you passionate about nowadays?
◇Ms. B: Actually, I've gotten really involved in the activities of the local fire brigade.
◆Mr. A: Really? Like a fire brigade that fights fires? Which fire brigade are you involved in? (1) (2)
◇Ms. B: The fire brigade in the neighborhood where I live.
◆Mr. A: Can anyone become a member of a fire brigade? (2)
◇Ms. B: Yes, as long as you live in the community, anyone can become a member.
◆Mr. A: What kind of activities do you do? (2)
◇Ms. B: Once a month, we use a firetruck and practice extinguishing fires.
◆Mr. A: So, you lift up the hose and run with it? And wind up the hose when you are done? (2)
◇Ms. B: That's right. At first, I had no idea what I was doing. However, older members of the brigade took the time to explain things to me carefully.
◆Mr. A: Sounds like a grandfather teaching something to his granddaughter, right? (3)
◇Ms. B: Exactly. It's like your grandfather from the country taking care of you. It's a lot of fun.
◆Mr. A: So, why did you decide to participate in fire brigade activities? (3)
◇Ms. B: I might be young, but I still want to contribute to the community in my own way.
◆Mr. A: What's the best thing about becoming a member of the fire brigade? (3)
◇Ms. B: Well, I learned a lot about the community where I live and I connected with other residents. I want to get even more involved in the future!
The example introduced above shows how each question asked by Mr. A corresponds to one of the three main points defined earlier in this article. The example is an actual conversation in which I participated. As you can see, the conversation deepens gradually.
It is extremely important to use the three main points of listening and asking; namely, (1) using the words said by the other party to continue the conversation, (2) facts, and (3) imagination. If you keep these points in mind, it will undoubtedly be of great use not only in your daily life but also in various situations in social life, whether at work or during your private time.