I can’t hear you: an 80-year-old lesson I screw up every day

I’m not good at meeting new people. I worry about saying something stupid or, more than anything, not having anything to say. I typically don’t talk alot. But when I have something new and exciting to talk about, I can’t wait to tell everyone.

Common sense (and some of the “pros”) tell you that you have to get out there and tell people. Spread the word. They need to hear about your fancy new widget. And it’s true to an extent, but it is also a very slippery slope.

It’s too easy to get so excited about your latest project or your new job or that recipe that you just nailed that you forget one key point.

“The person you’re talking to might simply not care.”

Our conversations often revolve around us and the information that we want to spew into the world. And because we’re so good at spewing, we’re bad listeners.

Dale Carnegie masterfully described this concept in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” all the way back in 1936. So why can’t we get it right nearly 80 years later?

People got it wrong at cocktail parties, around the water cooler, on telephones and now we get it wrong on social media every day. [Side note, if you hate the term “social media”, so does this guy. He even wrote a post about it.]

The problem is clear: we talk about ourselves too much.

The solution is also clear: listen and ask more questions.

Dale Carnegie imparted this advice:

“I have discovered from personal experience that one can win the attention and time and cooperation of even the most sought-after people by becoming genuinely interested in them.”

The key phrase is “by becoming genuinely interested in them.” That is only possible when we forget about trying to sell to them and listen with an attentive ear and eager-to-please attitude.

People want to listen to you… but they also want you to listen to them. Whether you are meeting someone new at the local coffee shop, helping a friend through a rough time or just passing time on social media, listen first. Listen genuinely. And by all means, talk less.

It’s simple.

And I still screw it up every day.

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This post was written by Josh Layhue

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