2-4 Be a good listener, encourage others to talk about themselves

An easy way to become a good conversationalist. Chapter 2 from How To Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.



Some time ago, I attended a bridge party. I don't play bridge - and there was a woman there who didn't play bridge either. She had discovered that I had once been Lowell Thomas' manager before he went on the radio and that I had traveled in Europe a great deal while helping him prepare the illustrated travel talks he was then delivering. So she said: "Oh, Mr. Carnegie, I do want you to tell me about all the wonderful places you have visited and the sights you have seen." As we sat down on the sofa, she remarked that she and her husband had recently returned from a trip to Africa. "Africa!" I exclaimed. "How interesting! I've always wanted to see Africa, but I never got there except for a twenty-four-hour stay once in Algiers. Tell me, did you visit the big-game country? Yes? How fortunate. I envy you. Do tell me about Africa." That kept her talking for forty-five minutes. She never again asked me where I had been or what I had seen. She didn't want to hear me talk about my travels. All she wanted was an interested listener, so she could expand her ego and tell about where she had been. Was she unusual? No. Many people are like that. 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." I told him that I had been immensely entertained and instructed - and I had. I told him I wished I had his knowledge - and I did. I told him that I should love to wander the fields with him - and I have. I told him I must see him again - and I did. And so I had him thinking of me as a good conversationalist when, in reality, I had been merely a good listener and had encouraged him to talk. What is the secret, the mystery, of a successful business interview? Well, according to former Harvard president Charles W. Eliot, "There is no mystery about successful business intercourse. Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing else is as flattering as that." Eliot himself was a past master of the art of listening, Henry James, one of America's first great novelists, recalled: "Dr. Eliot's listening was not mere silence, but a form of activity. more

Chapter 2: 6 (Six) ways to make people like you

2.5. Talk in terms of the other person's interests
Talk in terms of the other person's interests
. How to interest people.
2.6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely
. How to make people like you instantly.