I discovered wisdom on the Net late last night. I read an essay called The Secret to Connecting with People by David Cain and it was wise and worthy of repeating. A summary: Always let the speaker be the star. Give a person the chance to say their piece, no matter what you think of the story, or what you would do in their place.
Don’t be distracted by what you want to say, and make it your purpose on earth, for the 37 seconds it takes them to share the story, to understand what feelings are behind what they say.The habit of really listening to what someone is saying is a rare one. Let the other person have the privilege of being the first one to be understood.
The biggest distraction to understanding someone else is self-importance. Needing to say something means you have to be thinking about it, and thinking about it means you have very little mental capacity left for empathy. Free up yours and it will free up theirs.The concept of letting other people be the star only came to me fairly recently and I’m astounded at the results so far. My friends and family suddenly became ten times more interesting, not to mention strangers.
More and more I get to witness that wonderful sense of gratitude that washes over people when someone makes a genuine effort to understand them. And when you do get your chance to speak, their eyes will be glued to you, and you’ll probably have the best audience you ever had.