I remember reading Dale Carnegie's book, "How To Win Friends And Influence People" about 20 years ago and one story stuck with me more then any other. It was a story of how he met someone at a party and through the evening spent more time listening then talking. I have included the story below to give you the full flavor of these powerful paragraphs that impacted my life over the past 20 years.
When I started to write this part of the series I immediately thought of this Dale Carnegie story because I truly think about it quit often. In fact it has been about 20 years since I read it so I was curious about how much I really retained and if I had switched some of the details around. I'l be honest, I forgot about the botanist part but most of the other details were spot on.
I have tried to apply this strategy in my own career and social engagements through the years and I will tell you it works very well. It also makes you very aware of how much other people love to talk about themselves and I have used this to my advantage in many cases. In fact it has given me a clear strategy when in social settings to focus more on what the other person does and is interested in then trying to control the conversation and WOW them with my stuff and hope they are interested.
I have included the part of the book I am referencing and also have included the entire book of "How To Win Friends and Influence People" in pdf form, in case you might want to read it. I would consider it one of the Top 10 Books anyone should read, regardless of your profession or position in life. How To Win Friends &_Influence_People
Here is the section I am talking about specifically directed towards the power of Learning To Listen.
For example, I met a distinguished botanist at a dinner party given
by a New York book publisher. I had never talked with a botanist
before, and I found him fascinating. I literally sat on the edge of my
chair and listened while he spoke of exotic plants and experiments in
developing new forms of plant life and indoor gardens (and even told
me astonishing facts about the humble potato). I had a small indoor
garden of my own – and he was good enough to tell me how to solve
some of my problems.
As I said, we were at a dinner party. There must have been a dozen
other guests, but I violated all the canons of courtesy, ignored
everyone else, and talked for hours to the botanist.
Midnight came, I said good night to everyone and departed.
The botanist then turned to our host and paid me several flattering
compliments. I was "most stimulating." I was this and I was that,
and he ended by saying I was a "most interesting conversationalist."
An interesting conversationalist? Why, I had said hardly anything at
all. I couldn't have said anything if I had wanted to without changing
the subject, for I didn't know any more about botany than I knew
about the anatomy of a penguin.
But I had done this: I had listened intently.
I had listened because I was genuinely interested. And he
felt it. Naturally that pleased him. That kind of listening is one of the
highest compliments we can pay anyone. "Few human beings,"
wrote Jack Woodford in Strangers in Love, "few human beings are
proof against the implied flattery of rapt attention." I went even
further than giving him rapt attention. I was "hearty in my
approbation and lavish in my praise."