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Oh the irony of the hard-of-hearing to write about listening.....

Listening is observation with the ears. It's absorbing more information than you're aware of and processing it in such a way as to promote further observation and strengthen the interaction.

While what she says will directly give you information, HOW she says it will give you a gauge of intensity, passion, seriousness. You can get into WHY she says it later, because it's far too easy to get out of the moment and into your head trying to decode the myriad reasons one thing can be said.

Look for inflections, because they lead body language. Watch the eyes to see if they stay connected to yours.

And of course listen to WHAT she's saying. She's giving you the direction as to where the conversation wants to go. It's a verbal road map. Is she talking about her job? School? Her ass?

Now this is not to say that you can't deviate from this road map and should not take conversation where you want to go. Of course, yes, you should lead, but rather than view it as "Oh god I don't know what to talk about, I'm going to run out of things to say!" use her responses as a framework.

Combining this with observation, you can now totally be confident in any conversation.

Observe that she's fussing with her shoes "Hey, those shoes look great, but I'm guessing they can't be comfortable?" "Can you believe it? I paid $$$$ for them." "Totally worth it though. I saw you dancing in them...I think it was dancing. "laughs Yeah, that was dancing." "You better stop doing it." "Why? Am I that bad at it?" "No, but if you don't, I can't be responsible for what I do next."

Observation + Listening = In The Moment Confidence

Let's explore for a moment the idea of listening when you don't really want to. Suppose for a moment, there's an HB you're interested in. You approach, you start talking. Maybe you throw some kino in. She's definitely hooked. This is going well.

And then she starts talking.

It's not so much the sound of her voice that rips through your soul, but rather the content of her half of the conversation.

She's talking about her dog. She's talking about her shoes. She's coming across totally shallow, vapid and just plain dumb. She can hold a conversation, but not about topics you really have a passion for. It's all surface-stuff, and you can tell it's starting to cool off the interaction as a whole. It's decision time. Time for the man to act.

What can you do?

1. You can get out there. Just vanish. Poof.

2. You can harshly, quickly and dynamically change conversation back to what you want. The upside is that you're back in control, but you do run the risk of ruining her cute story about Miffy the Poodle and alienating her.

3. You can endure her drivel with a litany of "Yeah" and "Oh, really?" until such time as the interaction grinds to a screeching halt and you essentially have to start that upward climb towards success.

4. You can take from her drivel small tidbits you can use later.

There's no truly "wrong" answer. But each answer has with it a set of circumstances that you need to know and appreciate.

1. Just vanishing means the interaction will need to be re-started, if at all.

2. You run the risk of her thinking you're another "not-listening douchebag who just wants to get into her pants."

3. You'll be bored shitless.

4. You'll have the ability to self-amuse, reference later and keep this interaction going, because now you're doing more than just absorbing her story, you're processing it later.

So she talks about her dog. Maybe you want to get out on that dance floor and make her bark. Maybe you want to involve walking that dog into a day2. Maybe you want to see if she likes it doggystyle. It becomes what you make of it.

It's only "boring" because of your frame. It's only useless because of what you choose to make use of it. It's all material. It's all information. It's all insight into her and what she wants, whether she knows it or not.

Go forth and listen.

[edit] What Isn't Said (Layers)

Sometimes, it's about what isn't said.

Let us assume you're having a conversation. Let us further assume this conversation is with an attractive person, who you would like to advance things with, sexually. She may or may not be clued into this fact, but for this discussion now, that revelation does not matter.

Today, we're looking at what isn't said when you listen. Not what you don't hear but rather what is expressed non-verbally, those things that warrant attention because they have immediate bearing on what you do and what you will hear later.

In the throes of conversation, you're both really having many different conversations at once. We in the community dress up these layers with jargon sometime, but essentially these layers all occur together in conversation

1. The verbal layer - this is the exchange of words. This is the gateway to deeper levels, so remember that good verbal skills pay HUGE dividends. It's not about reading the dictionary. It's about putting together the best words in the best sequence to demonstrate and further your agenda. Words are essentially harmless sound until the mind equates meaning and interpretation to them, and therein lies the power. When you can clearly convey your meaning and dictate your choice of interpretation, then you'll really have no trouble in conversation, regardless of topic.

2. The emotional layer - This is a layer of subcues, it's a reactive layer. This is more a bridge or conduit than a full-on layer to itself, but everything filters through this layer. If you're uncertain in your words, if your body language is poor, if you're creepy, the emotional layer of context is sending her massive red flags to "have to use the bathroom". Understand that it's a filter, and gearing yourself appropriately will turn anything you put out into the interaction into gold.

3. The body layer - This is the more responsive layer. This is primal energy. This is where you find the lust, the passion and the physical expression of the other layers. Body language is king of this land, so bring yours or go home. When you move, she moves. It's physical chess. Logistics. Coordination of many facets.

4. The brain layer - This isn't so much a layer as it is the substitute teacher in a class. It thinks it's in control. It likes to throw around it's weight, and it can at times be a real pain in the ass to deal with. But if you can get around the blustery defenses, it's smooth sailing. It's a layer that talks a big game, but secretly has no backbone. You're NOT in competition with it. It's such an unfair fight, neither of you has any idea.

Let's check these things out in context. Let's go over a conversation I had last night at a party.

One girl, trying to pour mixed drinks

Me: If you spill some, are they going to make you lick it up? This looks expensive. Her: laughs, eyeing me I'm trying to be careful. Me: Looks like you're trying to talk to me and pour. How about I hold the bottle for you? Her: Okay.

That's the verbal layer. It's not suggestive, it's just conversation. All words. No pressure, no panic. Just talking. But, I'm moving to engage the body layer, (see how I offered to hold the bottle?) so she's going to now filter that request through her emotions to see if she's cool with it.

Me: Hang on little girl, I'm coming. I come around the side of the table, working behind her to help her hold the bottle, I grab her wrists and intentionally spill some. Her: Hey! You're spilling it, not me! Me: Good heavens! I usually have far better coordination than that. If you were less attractive, I don't think I'd have this problem. Her: She backs up against me, giggling Me: Oh, now you're just teasing me. Slap on the ass Behave. Pour me another drink, I'll be on the couch over there.

And there, the body layer. A physical extension of conversation. None of my responses are forced, and everything is dictated by the particular moment. I'm taking in all her layers, responding with mine, and STILL moving forward on my own agenda.

The brain layer was completely taken out of the equation because we're just two people having drinks and talking. Very little panic-button thought required.

She never said "Oh come here and touch me." You're very rarely going to find that in a non-intimate setting. But body language seemed to indicate she wouldn't be opposed to it. She was laughing, she was smiling and talkative. All are good signs to keep listening.

This ties so concretely to observation, and I really hope this last post had made this more clear.

Listen in layers. Listen to more than the words.

[edit] Listening But Not Looking Like You're Listening (Listening Casually)

Often when I'm in conversation, I'm really paying attention. I'm making good eye contact, I'm soaking up atmosphere, I'm really locked in. And this is good, producing great results.

And then there are sometimes when all people get is my ear. Or my shoulder. I'm still listening, but I'm usually doing something else while listening. This often gets interpreted as me not-listening, but I tend to surprise people by actually doing it. For instance, as I write this post, there's a woman in my bathroom ten feet away complaining that I don't keep enough towels on the shelf. She's counting on the fact that I'm engrossed in writing and/or that with the dog occasionally barking I can't focus on her.

But I'm listening.

Later, once she's out of the shower, and we're in the car I will no doubt initiate conversation based on what she thinks I didn't hear. This is not done to be an asshole, nor to prove superiority, it's just ammunition that I would be a fool to waste.

Listening while you're doing something else is an oft overlooked skill that is worth developing. It's not always easy, but it's trainable. Go into any packed room/club/bar and stick yourself in one place. Conversation is going on all around you. They'll give you plenty of ammo for in-the-moment openers.

And then, once you secure your entrance, all you need do is turn, tap them on the shoulder (I prefer right shoulders for some odd reason) and start conversation, casually inserting whatever bit of goodness I've heard her mention.

Now, you can add to this to Observation, and you'll start to see the lethality in simple, straight-forward game.

It's a straight-forward equation:

Listening + Observation + The Moment + Confidence = Success

Go do some math.

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