Humans seek attention but seldom pay it. Didn’t you, at least once in your life, wait for your friends to finish speaking so that you can present your thoughts? I did — numerous times. While doing so, we not only don’t pay attention to their words but also, unconsciously, create an image of ourselves as a reluctant listener. One of the very reasons why relationships, businesses, and friendships don’t work is the lack of listening. You may have heard a lot of things about good listening and how it is crucial in communication, but it is their application that creates magic, making you one of the most likeable person in the room.
In this era of expanding technology and shrinking attention span, the most valuable gift you can give someone is your undivided attention. As John Dewey once said, “the deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important.“ When you give your interlocutor your undivided attention, you make them feel special. Distractions are everywhere. You may even be getting notifications while reading this. So the next time you are with a person, pay close attention to what they speak. A simple gesture to make them feel special is to mute your phone notifications just before the conversation in front of them. This small yet effective gesture establishes a positive image in their minds.
But what about the times when your opinions conflict with that of your interlocutor? Should you abruptly correct them? No, sir. Whenever there is room for disagreement, which is a potential argument, try not to be a nazi and start imposing your terms on them. That destroys relationships, fails businesses, and drives away your friends. Quarrels lead you nowhere. And most of the time, you end up making the opponent more convinced than ever that they are right. Arguments are lose-lose situations because if you lose, you lose, and if you win, you lose the person. As mentioned before, humans have a desire to be great, and disagreeing makes them feel inferior. As Dale Carnegie once said,
“A man convinced against his will
Is of the same opinion still.”
Even in businesses, we are hired for our skills but fired for our behaviour. Listening comes in handy when you try to avoid arguments. Give your opponent a chance to represent their thoughts and opinions. Look for things that you agree with and emphasize them. By doing so, you show respect towards them, consequently, gaining the same from them. Arguments are a part of life, yet the best way to win a dispute is to avoid it. When you see the interlocutor disagreeing with something you said or vice versa, politely ask them to schedule a meeting after some time to discuss the topic and find a better way to express yourself.
Remember, ultimately, it is not how many debates you win or people you mock. All that will matter a few years from now is how efficiently you handled people and won them over to your way of thinking without criticizing or offending them. To be diplomatic is truly the noblest of all virtues.
This piece was inspired by the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” written by Dale Carnegie.