The Power of Being a Good Listener
Written by Corey Maple, Partner, Client Relations
A few years ago, I had an epiphany about relationships. I was in the car when it happened, and I had just had dinner with a friend. I was thinking about our conversation, and somehow I began to realize over the course of the meal, I had done most of the talking. He had simply asked me a few questions and then listened while I blathered away about my life. I felt rather selfish at first, but that’s when it hit me. As I thought about it more, I was blown away with how powerful the simple act of listening can be. He was just being a good friend, and of course, I appreciated him even more for it.
“So 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.”
I’ve read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, and I personally think everyone should read it at least once a year. He talks a lot about being a good listener and being truly interested in other people. This is a wonderfully simple key in establishing and developing good relationships. When we take the time to listen, we are showing others that they’re important to us. This creates an environment of trust, which every meaningful relationship needs.
Sounds simple enough, right? Just because the concept is simple, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to implement. It’s something we have to train ourselves to do. We have to practice it, because we are typically selfish by nature. It has to become part of who we are. In other words, our motives have to be in the right place. We are all familiar with the persona of the “sleazy sales guy.” He only acts interested in someone so that he can get something out of the exchange. You can spot those guys from a mile away, and their fraudulence is so obvious it’s revolting.
So the goal of all this shouldn’t be some kind of sales tactic, because in the end, our intentions will be made known. On the other hand, if we are truly interested in others and put some effort into listening to their wants and needs, we will create trust and goodwill with those around us. This naturally leads to better and stronger client relationships, as well as more meaningful ties with friends and loved ones.