Most people fail to make a favorable impression on others because they do not listen attentively. Big men, who matter, prefer good listeners to good talkers. Everyone is dying to air his views, pour out his heart, talk about his problems, speaks about his accomplishments, share his sorrows and joys. Even the dumb or tongue-tied individual is eager to unburden himself. There is, therefore, a constant and pressing demand for sympathetic, sincere, keen, enthusiastic and intelligent audience. When people talk about themselves, their great need for importance is being satisfied. At the same time, it helps them to solve their problems, mitigate their distress and multiply their happiness.
Many people call for a doctor when all they went is an audience. Next to their names, all people want to hear is their own voices. When you want to create the right impact, when you want to influence and motivate them, you should encourage them to talk about themselves. Even the busiest individual who charges millions of $ for each second of his time, will readily spend hours together talking to you, when you get him start talking about himself. There is literally no exception to this rule. To be interesting, you have to be interested. Ask questions. Draw him out. Make him talk about himself. Pay rapt attention. Never be impatient. Do not start looking at your watch and then start shaking it and putting on to your ear to make sure it hs not stopped. Do not yawn. Do not interrupt. Do not tell him that you have heard it all before or that you know about them long before he learnt about.
You may be smart. You may be clever. You may know a lot more than the other chap. That is very good indeed and you must do everything possible to get into the lead and stay in the lead. But never tell anyone you are cleverer or smarter than him/her. If you are really smart, you will not try to appear smarter than him. If you are really smart,you will not try to appear smarter than the other fellow. You should not give the impression that you are a "know all" and the other party is nitwit. If you can help it, avoid talking about yourself and that about your strong points. But it is different in an informal conversation. If at all you are made to talk about yourself, be brief, modest and tactful. Do not go about dotting the 'i's and crossing the 't's. If you speak highly of yourself, others will conclude that you are boasting and if you are speaking ill of yourself, they might believe it and spread it. Therefore, it is wiser not to talk about yourself.
There are few sentences or phrases which at once set the other person talking. They are truly magic phrases or magic words. Ask anyone-your friend, teacher, spouse, doctor, baker, boss, anybody-just what is his/her opinion on the subject that he specializes or claims superior knowledge. See how at once he/she feels elevated, how his/her eyes brighten, how he coughs importantly and proceeds to elucidate his opinion on the matter. "If you please,", "May I ask you a favor?" "Can you kindly spare me a second?", or other such magic phrases at once get you a favorable response from the other person. To keep the conversation going just ask "and then what did you do?" And first watch how he proceeds to explain how he/she proceeds to explain with renewed vigor, gusto and self-satisfaction.If you want to be regarded as a reputed and interesting conversationalist, if you want a royal and ready welcome from any and everyone, no matter at what time of day or night it might be, first remember to put this all important question: "And then what did you do?" or "And then what did you say?" or "And then what happened?"
Disraeli, the famous English statesman and favorite of mighty Queen Victoria, was beset with two serious handicaps when he wanted to get the recognition and acceptance from the British royal and high society. He was a nobody and his meteoric rise many extremely jealous. But very soon he was not only accepted but was in great demand. He became the most charming and sought-after person. His secret, which he himself wrote in his diary was "Don't talk too much. Never argue." Remember that you cannot learn when you are talking and your mouth is open. To hear and learn more, you must keep your ears and eyes open and not the mouth. The average individual wantes to talk and not to listen. Hence, a good listener is most welcome,anywhere, anytime. If you listen, you have the advantage. If you speak, others have the advantage. A fish dies by an open mouth and the frog attracts the snake, its mortal enemy because of its constant yelling. When the great Einstein was approached to provide the mathematical equation for success, he said: "If 'A' represents success in life, the formula is 'A' equal'X'plus'Y'plus'Z', 'X' being work and 'Y' being play." The impatient one could not wait, butted in and quipped, "And what does'Z' stand for, Mr. Einstein?" "Z", the great scientist replied, "is keeping your mouth shut." You must, therefore, listen your way to success and not try to talk your way to it. If you listen your way in, you do not have to talk your way out. We have two ears and one mouth. We must, therefore, use our ears twice as much as your mouth. The person you are talking to is one thousand times more interested in himself or herself than in you. That individual is bursting to talk about his hopes, wants, wishes, problems, achievements, family, friends, children, pets, possessions and what not. He/she has not time or inclination to listen what you have to say unless it concerns him/her or affects him/her in some way. He/she is certainly not interested whether you become a leader or stay as a follower. He/she is not bothered about your problems or what you want. His headache or tummy upset means more to him than Tsunami in the South-East asia. You must remember his cardinal, basic, all important and embracing fact, when you set out to motivate people and master the art of leadership.
Listen again to what Disraeli says:'Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours." Find out, therefore,his interests and lead him on to talk on those matters. Whenever you get the urge to talk, force yourself to listen. You can never impress people bragging about yourself. If, on the other hand, you listen with interest, enthusiasm and imagination, the other person will soon broadcast and televise your greatness. When you listen attentively and eagerly, it makes others like you immediately. It creates such a nice and favorable impression of yourself on them. Since they must talk and air their views and discoveries, they will everyone what a great and wonderful chap you are. They will become the strongest advocates to champion your cause. Therefore listen your way to leadership and success.