There is one all-important law of human conduct. If we obey that law, we shall almost never get into trouble. In fact, that law, if obeyed, will bring us countless friends and constant happiness. But the very instant we break the law, we shall get into endless trouble.
The law is this:
Always make the other person feel important
(Excerpt from Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People”)
That excerpt hits me home.
Everyone likes to be appreciated, praised, put in the limelight, or whatever it is that makes them the center of attention.
“if only I did this earlier…” I said to myself.
Let’s admit it, we like it when people calmly listen and respond properly to our stories. A simple “Really!?” with a natural curiosity and proper expression would keep storyteller busy telling stories for hours.
I had a good memories of being in the storyteller position. The listener would only respond with clarifying questions or a simple question with tone that radiates excitement. Without realizing that I had been talking for hefty amount of minutes. It’s a joy to be listened by great listener.
However, I was enjoying too much in the storyteller position. This was my regret, never knew listening was not a piece of cake. It takes a sincere heart, if not a controlled and trained facial expression. A sincere heart of wanting to listen to various stories from many person is not easy to get. We need to go through a tedious hours and train our heart to be very accepting without any kinds of bias.
And I’m telling you, it’s hard.
I’ve tried to do as the book–or many experts said. But being such a good listener without being bored or having the brain filled with “what should I ask next?” is not my forte (yet). The result of my attempts to do that was a bit embarrassing and cringy.
Weeks ago, I had a chance to interview a person. We had a common background as we are both a graduate of international relations, so I thought it would be a good conversation opener and theoretically, could keep the interviewee talk for a good duration.
But no. Instead of getting a niagara-like conversation, we had this awkward pause where he would clearly guess that I’m confused of what to ask next. Worse, my expression and my tone wasn’t as excited as I planned. I still had this internal judgment and busy brain deciding what to ask next instead of enjoying the talk and got excited for what the interviewee had done in the past.
The words just didn’t came out as I planned. I was embarrassed for that.
After that interview, I had another shot at interviewing another people. But because I had my chief as the main interviewer, I was responsible for creating an opening while waiting the chief to come. So I created a mental image where I would ask questions to the interviewee clearly and good questions, making the atmosphere somewhat like Jimmy Kimmel or Conan O’ Brien talkshow.
Instead, I got another awkward pauses.
You know, that small, insincere laugh with noticeable fake grin? That’s what I did.
Instead of getting deeper conversation by asking personal questions, what I ask was
“How’s the road?”
I’m a bit frustrated by how the interviews went so far. I wish I could be like Conan O’ Brien or Yoo Jae Suk.
This made me feel like I have to be grateful and thankful of people who listened to my stories in the past. Their willingness to respond beautifully was what made my day.
At the same time, I feel bad for the listeners, too.
They have to listen to this self-obsessed egoistical narcissist who would talk about himself over and over without giving the listener the same question and listen about their personal stories.
When people made you feel important, it’s impossible not to like that people.
That’s why, we have to be thankful to the great listeners.
Thank you for being a listener for our stories. You are the reason why people are confident, sane, motivated, and feel important.
Really, you are the MVP.