Successful business interaction is not a mystery. Nothing is so praiseworthy and important as paying exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you.

 

 

Human Relations Principle 7: Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

(“An easy way to become a good conversationalist.”)

(This is the seventh in a series of articles where I will encapsulate each of Dale Carnegie’s timeless, life-changing principles for dealing with people. (Adapted from How to Win Friends and Influence People.))*

Listening is just as important in your home life as in the world of business. Listen carefully when a family member wants to speak to you. They will know you love them because whenever they want to talk to you about something you stop whatever you are doing and listen to them.

If you want to know how to make people shun you and laugh at you behind your back and even despise you, here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself. If you have an idea while the other person is talking, don’t wait for him or her to finish; bust right in and interrupt in the middle of a sentence . . .

Be an Attentive Listener

People prefer good listeners to good talkers. If you desire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener.

Many people fail to make a favorable impression because they don’t listen attentively. They are so concerned with what they are going to say next that they do not keep their ears open.

To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments.

Listen with your mind and wholeheartedly consider what the other person has to say while they are saying it. Hear with your eyes as well as your ears.

Lincoln’s Old Friend Changed History by Being a Good Listener

During the darkest hours of the Civil War, Lincoln wrote an old friend in Springfield, Illinois, asking him to come to Washington. Lincoln said he had some problems he wanted to discuss with him. The old neighbor visited the White House, and Lincoln talked to him for hours about the advisability of issuing a proclamation freeing the slaves. Lincoln went over all the arguments for and against such a move, and then read letters and newspaper articles, some denouncing him for not freeing the slaves and other denouncing him for fear he was going to free them.

After talking for hours, Lincoln shook hands with his old neighbor, said good night, and sent him back to Illinois without even asking for his opinion. Lincoln had done all the talking himself. That seemed to clarify his mind. “He seemed  to feel easier after that talk,” the old friend said. Lincoln hadn’t wanted advice. He had wanted merely a friendly, sympathetic listener to whom he could unburden himself.

That’s what we all want when we are in trouble—a friendly, sympathetic listener. That is frequently all the irritated customer, the dissatisfied employee, or the troubled family member or friend wants.

This week practice being a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Much success and fulfillment with mastering human relations,

Ray

 

* The best guide on effective human relations that I have ever encountered is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, published in 1936. Prior to writing the book, Carnegie spent 20 years researching the habits of successful people. The book has sold over 30 million copies and is still listed on Amazon’s top 100 best selling books.

Other articles within this series you may enjoy:

3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People

6 Ways to Make People Like You

 

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