Why Being A Good Listener Isn’t Just Polite, It’s A Hallmark Of Success
To the reader, you are my inspiration for all that I’ve ever dreamed and have been brave enough to say.
Have you ever wondered what sort of advice would people offer if you asked, “How do I make friends?”; “How to get people to like me”; “How can I influence or persuade people?”
Hopefully, the people responding to these questions would offer you thought-provoking advice.
Whether we ask these questions to our acquaintances, friends, family, or even to ourselves, such questions occupy much of our time. To show you how, think of it this way.
Understanding relationship dynamics takes form in our daily lives through way of questions such as, “How do I get that man or woman to be interested in me?”; “How do I get my employer to like me”; “How can I persuade X group of people to do something that I’m interested in doing?”, and so on.
After reading those questions, you may ask yourself, “But why is that? Why do we care so much about making friends, getting people to be interested in us, influencing others, and other existential questions that pertain to our relationships with others?”
While we can all rationalize a multitude of responses to such questions, the answer might be simpler than we think- we care so much about building relationships and managing relationship dynamics because we want to be liked.
Now, you might be thinking that that’s a bit narcissistic but it’s the most honest answer that I can possibly offer.
I honestly say this by way of Dale Carnegie and his seminal book, How to Win Friends and Influence People: The Only Book You Need to Lead You to Success. In this book, Carnegie provides some of the best time-tested pieces of advice used by people in their professional and personal lives.
Used by the likes of iconic figures such George Eastman (Kodak), President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie (Carnegie Steel Company), and so on, these vital pieces of advice will not only teach you how to win friends over but will more importantly help you live a life focused on those around you.
With that said, let’s dive into some of the ways on how to make people like you!
As a former bullshit artist, I can honestly tell you that nobody appreciates it when you act phony and do things only for your own interest. Let me tell you why.
People are awesome for many reasons. One of those reasons is that most people have an (innate) social sense for picking up on deceit and phoniness. In other words, no one wants half of an audience; they want and demand the whole audience! People want to be heard intently and as if their word is the most important thing out there.
People don’t want to put up with someone who is acting like they’re interested in what they have to say. They want the full experience, not just the impression of an experience!
Why do you think so many conversations in relationships begin with or end with the phrase, “You never listen to me”?
It’s probably because the person who is supposed to be listening isn’t exactly interested in what the other person has to say. But, no need to fret or lose sleep over this!
Here’s a quick fix to help you woo those with your superior listening skills and attention to detail!
Next time you’re sharing a conversation with someone, practice listening to them with your whole body: eyes, ears, and your posture. Your engaged body language will (sub)consciously make the other person believe that you have dedicated all your physical and mental energy towards them!
Next step, listen to someone with not only your body language but with your entire mental capacity. As we said before, the former isn’t too challenging (sit upright, make eye contact, lean in slightly to express interest, nod your head, etc.) but the latter half may be a bit of a challenge.
With so many distractions in our high-tech world (notifications, emails, text messages, phone calls, etc.), it’s sometimes challenging for us to be fully engaged in a conversation.
However, there are two excellent conversation pointers that will demonstrate to the speaker that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say: talk in terms of the speaker’s interests and sincerely make the speaker feel important.
Talking in terms of the someone’s interest is one of the best and fool-proof ways for to show your interest in someone. Rather than speaking about yourself and using the word “I” endlessly, ask the speaker about her/his interests; get them to talk about what they’re most interested in.
This may require that you do some research into a person’s life (I know right! Doing research, who wants to do that anymore?) or ask a unique question like, “I can’t believe you did that!” or “What was it like doing (fill in the blanks)?”
Think of it this way: not only did you gear the conversation towards the speaker, you prioritized someone else’s ideas and experiences over yours! And believe it or not, people will appreciate it to the utmost when you make them feel important.
Now since you made it this far, challenge yourself to apply some (if not all) of the tid-bits of advice to being an excellent conversationalist and listener.
Be attentive, avoid using the word “I”, shift the conversation to the other person, and express your interest in their interests.
If you get lost along the way, never hesitate to remember the maxim, “To be a good listener, you must encourage others to talk about themselves.”