“If you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. To be interesting, be interested. Ask questions that other persons will enjoy answering. Encourage them to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. Remember that the people you are talking to are a hundred times more interested in themselves and their wants and problems than they are in you and your problems. A person’s toothache means more to that person than a famine in China which kills a million people. A boil on one’s neck interests one more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that the next time you start a conversation.”
This is the fourth principle in “Part Two: Six Ways To Make People Like You” of Dale Carnegie’s bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
It emphasizes the importance of active listening to be a good conversationalist, contrary to what many people believe. Many of us value eloquence, but the reality is more people would rather have someone listen to them — really listen to them.
Yes, another reality is there are two types of listening: active and half-hearted.
According to WebMD, “If you’re engaging in active listening, this means that you are putting down your phone, book, tablet, or whatever else may distract you from the other person’s words. But it’s not as simple as merely hearing what your conversation partner is saying. You’re listening with the intention of understanding your partner on an emotional level as well as a literal, verbal one.”
Active listening is especially important in personal relationships, because we tend to take for granted our loved ones the most. That’s why WebMD has listed the following actions as essential to active listening:
- Turning off devices and removing other objects that may distract you from paying full attention to the person that you’re conversing with.
- Listening to the other person without making any judgment or criticism.
- Combining verbal communication with nonverbal cues such as eye contact, nodding, hand gestures, and facing the person you’re talking with in order to express respect and interest.
- Allowing the other person to finish speaking first before you discuss what’s in your mind.
And so, if you want to improve your relationship with loved ones and even with other people, cultivate the art of good conversation. Listen actively!