Last week we took a look at Dale Carnegie’s advice on how to be a good listener and encourage others to talk about themselves. I shared a half dozen simple questions you can use to get the conversation started. They were non-threatening, generic ice-breaker questions. This week we’ll look at some advice that goes hand in hand with what was shared last week – talking in terms of the other person’s interests.
So you broke the ice and you’ve been paying attention to what others are saying. You might get lucky and find they share some of the same passions you do. Life is looking pretty good when that happens because when you find you have something in common it’s easy to form relationships. That’s because the principle of liking tells us we have a tendency to automatically like people who share common interests with us.
For example, I’m passionate about fitness, martial arts and sales. If I come across someone who has a keen interest in one of those areas it’s easy to talk for hours! But, what if you or I run into people who don’t share our same passions?
Let’s say you meet someone and quickly find out they’re into extreme sports. Feeling you have nothing in common, what can you do? Actually it’s pretty simple; allow them to talk about extreme sports. Just ask questions, show genuine interest and look at it as a learning experience. You could start by saying, “Wow, I’ve never had the desire to go bungee jumping. What made you decide to try that?” There’s probably a great story behind that first jump, full of excitement and emotion. As the person relives the events that lead to the first jump, and the jump itself, they’ll probably feel many of the same exhilarating feelings they experienced before. That’s good news for you for a couple of reasons.
First, they’ll start to associate those feelings with you. Everyone likes to feel good, right? Of course they do and when people feel good around you they tend to like you and want to be around you more. That’s a great way to start a relationship.
Second, being tied in some way to those feelings will make you more memorable. That’s also great for you because the individual is likely to remember you and your name. Have you ever seen someone you met before but you didn’t approach them again because you were embarrassed that you couldn’t recall their name? Being memorable makes it less likely someone will avoid you because they can’t recall your name.
Talking in terms of the other person’s interests isn’t that hard. It just takes the willingness and patience to be a good listener and the smarts to ask a few good questions. The willingness and patience are the hardest things for most people for a few reasons.
- We want to be known. If someone goes on and on we begin to wonder if we’ll get our turn. If you find you’re with someone who never gives you that chance, odds are they aren’t the kind of person you’ll seek out for relationship. If it’s a business relationship then don’t lose sight of the goal – improving business.
- We’re not very good listeners. Most people don’t listen with the desire to understand; rather they listen to respond so they can get their two cents in. Put on top of that all the distractions we have in modern life and it takes more effort than ever to really be a good listener.
If you can be a good listener and talk in terms of the other person’s interests it can end up being fun because you get to know more about another person and you might learn about something new. I encourage you this week to become other-focused and engage people on their terms based on their interests. Do so and you’ll win more friends and influence more people. Brian
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”