Self improvement guru Dale Carnegie once said “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
If there’s one thing we all love it’s to talk about ourselves. If that’s the main aim of two people in conversation, well, a lot will be said but how much will be heard or for that matter learned?
You know what I’m talking about.
You’re listening intently, not to what’s being said by the other person but, waiting for a gap to jump in with your story.
It’s no sin, we all do it, but think ahead to next time you engage in conversation. Instead of leaping in at the first breath pause, bite your tongue and listen, or even better, ask a question based on what you have heard.
It’s called ‘active listening’ which may sound easy but does take some effort. It means listening to not only what the other person is saying but reading the thoughts and feelings that are unsaid.
It’s also important not to reach conclusions on what you’re hearing before the person has finished.
Good listening also means total commitment to the conversation. Put your mobile phone away and any other distractions out of your head. If your trying to think of what you are going to say next your not listening.
If you want to see a great conversation first hand look at the work of Michael Parkinson, the finest TV interviewer I’ve ever seen.
In fact interview is not the right term at all, when Parky speaks with a guest it’s like a chat between two old friends.
He never has to ask the blunt question to get a headline reply, instead he will gain their confidence, make them feel they were talking just to him, and invariably they open up and reveal all.
Know your place
While Parkinson was every inch a star, he knew his place in an interview was to be the conduit to get the best out of his guests.
While your ‘interviews’ mightn’t be seen by millions the principle is the same. If you make the other person the centre of your attention you’ll learn plenty and get a reputation for being a caring, well-rounded human being.
To quote Richard Branson, Virgin Group CEO ‘the most effective leaders and entrepreneurs listen more than they speak.’
It’s worked for Richard and it can work for you.
If you want to brush up your presentation and public speaking skills or if you need executive coaching contact Graeme Goodings now.